Aim of this paper is to analyse and assess two divergent understandings of metaphysical modality. On one hand, according to the absolutist conception, metaphysical modality is the extreme variety of objective modality and can be characterised in terms of all the varieties of objective modality: for example, p is metaphysically necessary if and only if p is necessary for every variety of objective necessity. The absolutist conception can also be framed in terms of counterfactual inevitability. On the other hand, according to the essentialist conception of metaphysical modality, p is metaphysically necessary if and only if the truth of p is grounded by the essences of some entities. Based on the analysis of these two conceptions, I show that possible worlds are not helpful in characterising metaphysical modality. I finally suggest that in the light of a general principle about philosophical terminology, the essentialist conception has an edge over the absolutist one.
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