Recent metaphysics has seen a surge of interest in grounding—a relation of non-causal determination underlying a distinctive kind of explanation common in philosophy. In this article, I investigate the connection between grounding and another phenomenon of great interest to metaphysics: ontological dependence. There are interesting parallels between the two phenomena: for example, both are commonly invoked through the use of “dependence” terminology, and there is a great deal of overlap in the motivations typically appealed to when introducing them. I approach (...) the question of the relationship between grounding and ontological dependence through an investigation of their modal connections (or lack thereof). I argue, firstly, that on the common assumption that grounding is factive, it can be shown that no known variety of rigid ontological dependence is either necessary or sufficient for grounding. I also offer some suggestions in support of the claim that this generalizes to every possible form of rigid ontological dependence. I then broaden the discussion by considering a non-factive conception of grounding, as well as by looking at forms of generic (rather than rigid) ontological dependence. I argue that there is at least one form of rigid ontological dependence that is sufficient for non-factive grounding, and that a form of generic dependence may be necessary (but not sufficient) both for factive and non-factive grounding. However, justifying even these fairly weak modal connections between grounding and ontological dependence turns out to require some quite specific and substantive assumptions about the two phenomena that have only rarely been discussed. (shrink)
This dissertation investigates grounding, the relation of non-causal determination whereby one fact obtains in virtue of some other fact or facts. Although considerations of grounding have been central throughout Western philosophy, the last 15-20 years have seen a renaissance of systematic work on grounding in analytic philosophy. The aim of the dissertation is to contribute to our understanding of the nature of grounding and its relation to other central phenomena in metaphysics. -/- Chapter 1 of the dissertation provides a brief (...) presentation of grounding and introduces some distinctions of relevance to later chapters. Chapter 2 discusses the question of whether grounding can be reduced. Four reductive accounts – in terms of fundamentality and supervenience, essence, reduction, and metaphysical laws respectively – are considered. All of these accounts are found to be subject to objections and are consequently rejected. -/- Chapter 3 considers the relation between grounding and another important phenomenon in metaphysics, namely ontological dependence. The question of the relation between the two is approached through an investigation of their modal connection (or lack thereof). It is argued that on the common assumption that grounding is a factive relation, ontological dependence can be shown to be neither necessary nor sufficient for grounding. Furthermore, to get any form of modal connection between the two relations, one needs to move to a non-factive conception of grounding or consider generic ontological dependence and accept a potentially controversial principle about the modal behaviour of grounding. Even then, the modal connection between grounding and ontological dependence is weak and subject to qualifications. -/- Chapter 4 develops and defends the novel notion of metaphysically opaque grounding. It is commonly assumed that grounding is an especially intimate and powerful connection and enables a form of explanation that is particularly strict and illuminating. An arguably related idea is that grounding is necessarily connected with the core features of things – their essences or natures. Metaphysically opaque grounding constitutes a form of grounding that falsifies both of these ideas. Chapter 4 makes the notion of metaphysically opaque grounding precise, motivates the idea that there are genuine cases of such grounding, explores its consequences for the theory of grounding, and defends the notion from potential objections, concluding that there are currently no strong reasons to rule out opaque grounding. (shrink)
The claim that there are bare particulars — individuals possessing no properties — is a highly controversial thesis in metaphysics. It has been heavily criticized and is often thought to be subject to a number of decisive counterarguments, some of which aim to show that there is something incoherent about the very idea of a bare particular. I believe that the theory of bare particulars can, given certain modifications, be defended from such accusations. But the fact that a theory is (...) not incoherent does not suffice for it to be a good theory, and I believe that the theory of bare particulars — although capable of coherence — is a deeply unsatisfactory theory in metaphysics, for reasons rarely appreciated in the discussion. In sections 2 and 3 of this paper, I introduce the notion of a bare particular by presenting two of the central theoretical tasks for which the postulation of such entities has been thought necessary. In section 4, I present three of the classical arguments intended to show that the theory of bare particulars is fundamentally flawed or even incoherent. In section 5, I argue that if we adopt what I call the minimal view of bare particulars, the theory can handle all of these objections. Finally, in section 6, I argue that despite not being undermined by the classical arguments, the minimal view of bare particulars makes it highly implausible to suppose that there are any entities of that kind. The theory of bare particulars can be made coherent only at the cost of being made highly theoretically unattractive. (shrink)
Proponents of the substance view contend that abortion is seriously morally wrong because it is killing something with the same inherent value and right to life as you or I. Rob Lovering offers two innovative criticisms of the anti-abortion position taken by the substance view – the rescue argument and the problem of spontaneous abortion. Henrik Friberg-Fernros offers an interesting response to Lovering, but one I argue would be inconsistent with the anti-abortion stance taken by most substance view theorists.
The question of whether humans have free will, like the question of the meaning of life, is one whose answer depends on how the question itself is interpreted. In his recent book Neurophilosophy of Free Will: From Libertarian Illusions to a Concept of Natural Autonomy, Henrik Walter examines whether free will is possible in a deterministic natural world, and he concludes that the answer is "It depends" (xi). He rejects a libertarian account of free will as internally inconsistent, but (...) argues for a version of compatibilism that he calls "natural autonomy." Natural autonomy, or "giving oneself laws" (8), is a successor concept to libertarian free will, and it provides for a self-determination that is consistent with a deterministic and fully physical world. Walter covers a lot of ground in this book. He debunks dualism, examines classical and modern physics, critiques radical constructivism, and utilizes chaos theory, and he refers to figures from St. Augustine to Humberto Maturana, Dennett, Einstein, Hegel and Nozick. This book could be seen as encompassing two distinct projects. The first project is a defense of what Walter calls "neurophilosophy" as a methodology for answering traditional philosophical questions. This methodology is more commonly known as "cognitive science," and Walter accepts the naturalistic premises that underlie most of the work being done by cognitive scientists today. The second project is an application of the neurophilosophical methodology to the traditional question of whether free will is compatible with determinism. The defense of a neurophilosophical methodology is concentrated in the second section of the book, whereas the first and third sections focus on the issue of free will. In the first section Walter presents a thorough overview of the free will debate. It is the final third of the book that warrants the most attention, for this is where the original work is concentrated. Before we examine Walter's contribution to the free will debate, let us briefly look at his historical analysis and the neurophilosophical method that he advocates.. (shrink)
This article introduces to a wider public a hitherto unknown report written by the “Romantic” natural philosopher and mineralogist Henrik Steffens. In the 1811 report Ideas on Medical Meteorology, commissioned by the Prussian Ministry of the Interior via the physician Johann Christian Reil, Steffens argued for a new, “organic” perspective on meteorology focusing on interrelations between the atmosphere and diseases among humans and animals. This new outlook, he argued, was to be realized via a series of observations directed by (...) the state administration. Excerpts from the report are translated and commented upon in order to illuminate their context. These show the report to be part of a significantly older European tradition of inquiry into the connection between changes in the atmosphere and health. A speculative variation of this tradition, for which the general term “Organic Meteorology” is introduced here, was ignited in German-speaking regions through Schelling’s natural philosophy. The report and its context show that the Prussian state was willing to engage with “Romantic” natural philosophy, that Steffens gladly provided expertise for this purpose, and that this was part of a more general effort to professionalize medicine. (shrink)
This paper reconsiders Georg Henrik von Wright’s theory of causation from the point of view of pragmatism. Given the conceptual link between causation and action, von Wright’s position might be reinterpreted along pragmatist lines, even though he never explicitly developed his views with reference to pragmatism. However, the dichotomy between the ontological and the conceptual presupposed by von Wright may also be criticized from a pragmatist perspective.
"Naturalism" is still often identified with a reductive worldview that identifies the final real constituents of the world with the deliverances of the natural sciences—or perhaps only of physics. In the last thirty years, however, there has been a concerted effort among analytic philosophers to distinguish between that reductive "strict naturalism" and a new "liberal naturalism" that does not deny that mental states, human agency, and moral norms are also natural realities. (For liberal naturalism, see, for example, the essays collected (...) by Mario de Caro and David MacArthur in Naturalism in Question [Harvard... (shrink)
G. H. V. Wright möchte die 'typische' Erklärung des Historikers als andersartig gegenüber der subsumptionstheoretischen Auffassung betrachten. Neu dabei ist sein Bemühen, das Schema des praktischen Schlusses als Basis der 'intentionalen Erklärung', die seiner Ansicht nach für die Geschichtswissenschaft charakteristisch ist, in den Vordergrund zu stellen. Doch scheitert sein Versuch, von der Handlungstheorie her ein Erklärungsschema aufzubauen, das logisch als Syllogismus erscheinen, aber ohne generelle Prämissen (über Korrelationen von 'Motivationshintergrund' und Handlung) auskommen soll. Die in der weiteren Diskussion (W. Stegmüller (...) u.a.) herausgestellte Möglichkeit, 'Erklären' in der Historie als eine Art Motiv-Analyse aufzufassen und von der Kausalanalyse zu trennen, kann m.E. zu einer Beschränkung der Forschungs- und Argumentationsmöglichkeiten in der Geschichtswissenschaft führen. (shrink)
G. H. V. Wright möchte die 'typische' Erklärung des Historikers als andersartig gegenüber der subsumptionstheoretischen Auffassung betrachten. Neu dabei ist sein Bemühen, das Schema des praktischen Schlusses als Basis der 'intentionalen Erklärung', die seiner Ansicht nach für die Geschichtswissenschaft charakteristisch ist, in den Vordergrund zu stellen. Doch scheitert sein Versuch, von der Handlungstheorie her ein Erklärungsschema aufzubauen, das logisch als Syllogismus erscheinen, aber ohne generelle Prämissen auskommen soll. Die in der weiteren Diskussion herausgestellte Möglichkeit, 'Erklären' in der Historie als eine (...) Art Motiv-Analyse aufzufassen und von der Kausalanalyse zu trennen, kann m.E. zu einer Beschränkung der Forschungs- und Argumentationsmöglichkeiten in der Geschichtswissenschaft führen. (shrink)