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Hale defends a broadly Fregean approach to metaphysics, according to which ontological distinctions among different kinds of things (objects, properties, and relations) are to be drawn on the basis of prior distinctions between different logical types of expression. The claim that facts about what kinds of things exist depend upon facts about what is possible makes little sense unless one accepts that at least some modal facts are fundamental, and not reducible to facts of some other, non-modal, sort. He argues that facts about what is absolutely necessary or possible have this character, and that they have their source or basis, not in meanings or concepts nor in facts about alternative 'worlds', but in the natures or essences of things.
Bob Hale has taught at the University of Lancaster, University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow, and University of Sheffield. He is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sheffield, and his main research interests are in the foundations of mathematics, and philosophy of logic and language. From 1997 to 1999 he was a British Academy Research Reader, and he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2000. In 2002-3 he was President of Aristotelian Society, and from 2009 to 2011 was a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow. He is a member of the editorial board of Philosophia Mathematica, and is author of Abstract Objects (Blackwell, 1987), co-editor of Reading Putnam (with Peter Clark; Blackwell, 1994), the Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Language (with Crispin Wright; Blackwell 1997), and Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology (with Aviv Hoffmann; OUP, 2010); and co-author of The Reason's Proper Study (with Crispin Wright; OUP, 2001).