This chapter argues for a kind of essentialism that is compatible with Davidson’s views as I understand them. Davidson is committed to the truth of various modal judgments about what has to be the case just by virtue of the fact that these are obvious truths. It is clear that these truths are de re modal truths. So, “That cow has to be a ruminant” is true but “That cow has to go ‘moo’ ” is false, even though the concept of the very young person speaking is such that the salient, defi ning feature for “cow” is “Cows go ‘moo.’ ”


In this section I argue that Davidson is implicitly committed to a kind of essentialism. Since this is a conclusion Davidson himself would have annoyedly rejected, I will defend it at some length.