I present new counterexamples to the asymmetry of grounding: we have prima facie reason to think that some conditional probabilities partially ground their inverse conditional probabilities, and vice versa. These new counterexamples may require that we reject the asymmetry of grounding, or alternatively may require that we reject one or more of the assumptions which enable the counterexamples. Either way, by reflecting on these purported counterexamples to grounding asymmetry we learn something important, either about the formal properties of grounding, or (...) about the nature of probability. (shrink)
Cross-temporal grounding is a type of grounding whereby present facts about the past (for example that Caesar was alive) are explained in terms of past facts (for example that Caesar is alive) rather than in terms of other present facts. This paper lays the foundations for a theory of cross-temporal grounding. After introducing the general idea of a type of grounding connecting facts to past facts, we offer two arguments that past-directed facts require cross-temporal grounds—the ‘argument from intimacy’ and the (...) ‘argument from past explanation’. We then go on to show that cross-temporal grounding statements can be understood as instances of a type of explanation which is perfectly legitimate and intelligible, even if somewhat unusual. Finally, we explain how the logic of grounding can be extended to accommodate cross-temporal grounding statements. (shrink)
Metaphysical grounding is often presented as a relation of directed dependence analogous to causation. The relationship between causation, properties, and laws of nature is hotly debated. I ask: what is the relationship between grounding, properties, and laws of metaphysics? I begin by considering the grounding analogue of Humean quidditism. Finding it implausible, I turn to the primitive-laws account of grounding, recently defended by Jonathan Schaffer and others. I argue this view is also unsatisfactory. I then present several possible dispositionalist-like accounts (...) and characterize the notion of a power to ground. I argue for three important conclusions: (i) each property essentially confers grounding powers; (ii) non-fundamental properties can be defined structurally in a particular sense, elucidating the claim that they are ‘nothing over and above’ the fundamental; and (iii) fundamental properties play a central role in grounding the grounding facts. Finally, it is significant that, combined with a causal powers-account of causal explanation, the door is open to a unified account of the metaphysics of causation and grounding: both flow from the natures of fundamental properties. (shrink)
A common view in the metaphysics of ground is that all grounding facts are grounded. This generates an infinite regress of ever more grounding of grounding facts, but most grounding theorists take the regress to be harmless. However, in this paper, I argue that the regress is in fact vicious, therefore some grounding facts are ungrounded. Since the regress appears to fall out of two plausible principles of fundamentality, I offer a new interpretation of them that allows for ungrounded grounding (...) facts. (shrink)
In this paper, I advance a lesser known counterfactual principle of grounding in a new kind of way by appealing to properties and the work they do. I then show that this new way of arguing for this principle is superior to another way, describe some of the work this principle can do, defend my use of this principle, and conclude with remarks on why principles like it are needed.
According to metaphysical coherentism, grounding relations form an interconnected system in which things ground each other and nothing is ungrounded. This potentially viable view’s logical territory remains largely unexplored. In this paper, I describe that territory by articulating four varieties of metaphysical coherentism. I do not argue for any variety in particular. Rather, I aim to show that not all issues which might be raised against coherentism will be equally problematic for all the versions of that view, which features far (...) more nuance and diversity than is typically ascribed to it. (shrink)
Many philosophers have recently been impressed by an argument to the effect that all grounding facts about “derivative entities”—e.g. the facts expressed by the (let us suppose) true sentences ‘the fact that Beijing is a concrete entity is grounded in the fact that its parts are concrete’ and ‘the fact that there are cities is grounded in the fact that p’, where ‘p’ is a suitable sentence couched in the language of particle physics—must themselves be grounded. This argument relies on (...) a principle, _Purity_, which states that facts about derivative entities are non-fundamental. Purity is questionable. In this paper, I introduce a new argument—the argument from _Settledness_—for a similar conclusion but which does not rely on Purity. The conclusion of the new argument is that every “thick” grounding fact is grounded, where a grounding fact [F is grounded in G, H, …] is said to be thick when at least one of F, G, H, … is a fact—a condition that is automatically satisfied if grounding is factive. After introducing the argument, I compare it with the argument from Purity, and I assess its cogency relative to the relevant accounts of the connections between grounding and fundamentality that are available in the literature. (shrink)
Grounding necessitarianism (GN) is the view that full grounds necessitate what they ground. Although GN has been rather popular among philosophers, it faces important counterexamples: For instance, A=[Socrates died] fully grounds C=[Xanthippe became a widow]. However, A fails to necessitate C: A could have obtained together with B=[Socrates and Xanthippe were never married], without C obtaining. In many cases, the debate essentially reduces to whether A indeed fully grounds C – as the contingentist claims – or if instead C is (...) fully grounded in A+, namely A plus some supplementary fact S (e.g. [Xanthippe was married to Socrates]) – as the necessitarian claims. Both sides typically agree that A+ necessitates C, while A does not; they disagree on whether A or A+ fully grounds C. This paper offers a novel defence of the claim that, in these typical cases, unlike A+, A fails to fully ground C – thereby bringing further support to GN. First and foremost, unlike A+, A fails to fully ground C because it fails to contain just what is relevant to do so, in two distinct senses – explanatory and generative relevance. Second, going for A, rather than A+, as a full ground undermines not just grounding necessitarianism, but modally weaker views which even contingentists may want to preserve. (shrink)
Mereological harmony is the idea that the mereological structure of objects mirrors the mereological structure of locations. Grounding harmony is the idea that there is a similar mirroring between the grounding structure of objects and locations. Our goal in this paper is exploratory: we introduce and then explore two notions of grounding harmony: locative and structural. We outline potential locative and structural harmony principles for grounding, and show which of these principles may entail, or be entailed by, principles of mereological (...) harmony. We then present a case study in grounding harmony, by applying it to Schaffer’s :31, 2010a) specific version of priority monism. We show that, given a strong form of grounding harmony, Schaffer-style monism is inconsistent, but that this inconsistency can be resolved by offering bespoke notions of grounding harmony. We use Schaffer’s priority monism to demonstrate a broader tension within certain packages of metaphysical views, including versions of priority pluralism. We close by briefly considering the case against structural grounding harmony. (shrink)
Most philosophers treat ontological dependence and metaphysical dependence as distinct relations. A number of key differences between the two relations are usually cited in support of this claim: ontological dependence's unique connection to existence, differing respective connections to metaphysical necessitation, and a divergence in their formal features. Alongside reshaping some of the examples used to maintain the distinction between the two, I argue that the additional resources offered by the increased attention the notion of grounding has received in recent years (...) potentially offer us a way to unite the two relations, promising the attendant benefits parsimony offers, as a result. (shrink)
In contemporary metaphysics, the doctrine that the fundamental facts are those which are wholly ungrounded is the received view or something near enough. Against this radical brutalism, several metaphysicians argued in favour of the existence of fundamental facts that are moderately brute or merely partially grounded. However, the arguments for moderately brute facts rely on controversial metaphysical scenarios. This paper aims to counteract the tendency in favour of radical brutalism on scientific grounds. It does so by showing that naturalistic metaphysicians (...) can appeal to plausible considerations from physical theory to establish the existence of moderately brute facts. But should the naturalistic metaphysician embrace moderate brutalism, namely the view that the fundamental facts are those which are merely partially ungrounded? Here I argue for a negative answer, recommending a more inclusive pluralism about the kinds of brute facts we can expect to find in nature. (shrink)
I argue that fictionalism about grounding is unmotivated, focusing on Naomi Thompson’s (2022) recent proposal on which the utility of the grounding fiction lies in its facilitating communication about what metaphysically explains what. I show that, despite its apparent dialectical kinship with other metaphysical debates in which fictionalism has a healthy tradition, the grounding debate is different in two key respects. Firstly, grounding talk is not indispensable, nor even particularly convenient as a means of communicating about metaphysical explanation. This undermines (...) the revolutionary proposal. Secondly, talk of grounding primarily occurs within metaphysics, which means the usual options for motivating a non-literal interpretation are ineffective. This undermines the hermeneutic proposal. (shrink)
How is grounding related to metaphysical explanation? The standard view is that the former somehow “backs”, “undergirds” or “underlies” the latter. This view fits into a general picture of explanation, according to which explanations in general hold in virtue of a certain elite group of “explanatory relations” or “determinative relations” that back them. This paper turns the standard view on its head: grounding doesn't “back” metaphysical explanation but is in an important sense downstream from it. I call this view “grounding (...) idealism”, since it structurally resembles an analogous view about causation that is known as “causal idealism” and has been endorsed by philosophers like Michael Scriven and Philip Kitcher. I formulate a specific version of grounding idealism, Metaphysical Explanation‐First Idealism (MEFI), according to which the semantic value of ‘grounding’ is an abundant, gerrymandered relation settled by the metaphysical explanation facts. Then I offer some theoretical considerations that support MEFI over rival accounts of the relation between grounding and metaphysical explanation. Finally, I address the question of what role is left for grounding to play, if not that of “backing” metaphysical explanations. (shrink)
Wilhelm has recently shown that widely accepted principles about immediate ground are inconsistent with some principles of propositional identity. This note responds to this inconsistency by developing two ground-theoretic accounts of propositional individuation. On one account some of the grounding principles are incorrect; on the other account, the principles of propositional individuation are incorrect.
This article explores the concept of metaphysically opaque grounding, a largely neglected form of metaphysical grounding that challenges the commonly held assumptions that grounding is an especially intimate and powerful connection between facts and that it is necessarily connected with the essences of things. I provide a definition of opaque grounding, identify some interesting philosophical views that are committed to it, and explore some consequences for the general theory of grounding. Finally, I briefly address some natural initial doubts about opaque (...) grounding and find them unwarranted. The upshot is that the notion deserves more attention than it has previously received. (shrink)
As it is presently employed, grounding permits grounding many things from one ground. In this paper, I show why this is a mistake by pushing for a uniqueness principle on grounding. After arguing in favor of this principle, I say something about it and kinds of grounding, discuss a similar principle, and consider its import on a formal feature of grounding, ontology, and ontological simplicity.
In this essay, I propose a functionalist theory of grounding (functionalist-grounding). Specifically, I argue that grounding is a second-order phenomenon that is realized by relations that play the noncausal explanatoriness role. I also show that functionalist-grounding can deal with a powerful challenge. Appeals to explanatory unificationism have been made to argue that the success of noncausal explanations does not depend on the existence of grounding relations. Against this, I argue that a systematization involving functionalist-grounding is superior to its anti-relational counterpart.
According to the Ontological Innocence Thesis (OIT), grounded entities are ontologically innocent relative to their full grounds. I argue that OIT entails a contradiction, and therefore must be discarded. My argument turns on the notion of “groundmates,” two or more numerically distinct entities that share at least one of their full grounds. I argue that, if OIT is true, then it is both the case that there are groundmates and that there are no groundmates. Therefore, so I conclude, OIT is (...) false. Moreover, once we have seen why OIT is false, only three heterodox views about reality's structure remain. So this paper’s second conclusion is that, even after we have discarded OIT, we are in for an additional surprise. (shrink)
A popular principle about grounding, “Internality”, says that if A grounds B, then necessarily, if A and B obtain, then A grounds B. I argue that Internality is false. Its falsity reveals a distinctive, new kind of explanation, which I call “ennobling”. Its falsity also entails that every previously proposed theory of what grounds grounding facts is false. I construct a new theory.
Do grounding claims entail corresponding supervenience claims? The question matters, as a positive answer would help grounding theorists address worries that their hyperintensional primitive is obscure, and also increase the argumentative strategies that are available within ground-theoretic frameworks for metaphysical inquiry. Leuenberger (Erkenntnis 79:227–240, 2014a) argues for a negative response, by specifying some candidate principles of entailment and then claiming that each of them is subject to counterexamples. In this paper, I critically assess those principles and the objections he raises (...) against them, and advocate a novel entailment principle that overcomes all the problems suffered by those other principles. The principle I defend places a supervenience-based constraint on grounding claims, and secures a substantive connection between grounding and modality, weaker than necessitation. (shrink)
Metaphysical explanations, unlike many other kinds of explanation, are standardly thought to be insensitive to our epistemic situation and so are not evaluable by cognitive values such as salience. I consider a case study that challenges this view. Some properties are distributed over an extension. For example, the property of being polka-dotted red on white, when instantiated, is distributed over a surface. Similar properties have been put to work in a variety of explanatory tasks in recent metaphysics, including: providing an (...) analysis of change, giving to presentists truthmakers for past claims; giving to priority monists an account of basic heterogeneous entities; and giving to friends of extended simples an explanation of how an extended simple can enjoy qualitative variation. I argue that such explanations exhibit salience failure. How ought we represent the semantics of salience? Differences in linguistic stress induce semantic differences similar to the semantic differences induced in explanations by differences in salience, and I will draw an analogy with linguistic theories of focus sensitivity to sketch how one might model the role of salience in these kinds of explanations. I end with a few tentative conclusions about the role of cognitive values in metaphysical explanations. Some theorists view the citation of a ground as a sufficient explanation. If certain explanations appealing to distributed properties exhibit attenuated salience, then arguably the mere citation of a ground does not always provide an adequate explanation. (shrink)
According to the deductive-nomological account of ground, a fact A grounds another fact B in case the laws of metaphysics determine the existence of B on the basis of the existence of A. Accounts of grounding of this particular variety have already been developed in the literature. My aim in this paper is to sketch a new version of this account. My preferred account offers two main improvements over existing accounts. First, the present account is able to deal with necessitarian (...) as well as non-necessitarian cases of grounding by acknowledging the existence of two types of metaphysical laws. I will argue that we should assume that metaphysical laws come in the necessitarian as well as in the non-necessitarian varietyclosely paralleling the distinction between strict and non-strict laws in the philosophy of science. The second main improvement of the present account is that this account is able to provide an explanation of why the laws of metaphysics have a direction built into them. I will argue that we should characterize metaphysical laws with the help of Theodore Sider’s (2011) notion of structure, which is a descendent of David Lewis’s (1983) notion of naturalness. According to the account of metaphysical laws developed in this paper, metaphysical laws express in their antecedents either perfectly structural truths or more structural truths than in their consequents. Since on Sider’s account structural features of reality are fundamental features of reality, the account is able to explain as to why the laws of metaphysics take us from the fundamental to the derivative. (shrink)
According to grounding necessitarianism if some facts ground another fact, then the obtaining of the former necessitates the latter. Proponents of grounding contingentism argue against this claim, stating that it is possible for the former facts to obtain without necessitating the latter. In this article I discuss a recent argument from restricted accidental generalisations provided by contingentists that advances such possibility. I argue that grounding necessitarianism can be defended against it. To achieve this aim, I postulate a relationship between grounding (...) and essence by introducing a notion of individual essences understood as a set of essential properties that individuate its bearer. According to a proposed view grounding holds in virtue of identities of its relata, which are in turn determined by their respective individual essences. From there I claim that if grounding holds in virtue of the individual essences of its relata, then it is possible to resist the objection from restricted accidental generalisations and maintain a view that grounds necessitates what is grounded. (shrink)
It is common to think that grounding is necessary in the sense that: if P grounds Q, then necessarily: if P, then Q. Though most accept this principle, some give counterexamples to it. Instead of straightforwardly arguing for, or against, necessity, I explain the sense in which grounding is necessary and contingent. I argue that there are two kinds of grounding: what-grounding and why-grounding, where the former kind is necessary while the latter is contingent.
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. 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 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 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)
Grounding and explanation are said to be intimately connected. Some even maintain that grounding just is a form of explanation. But grounding and explanation also seem importantly different—on the face of it, the former is ‘worldy’ or ‘objective’ while the latter isn’t. In this paper, we develop and respond to an argument to the effect that there is no way to fruitfully address this tension that retains orthodox views about grounding and explanation but doesn’t undermine a central piece of methodology, (...) namely that explanation is a guide to ground. (shrink)
Separatists about grounding take explanations to be separate from their corresponding grounding-facts. Grounding-facts are supposed to underlie, or back, such explanations. However, the backing relation hasn’t received much attention in the literature. The aim of this paper is to provide an informative definition of backing. First, I examine two prominent proposals: backing as explaining (Kovacs 2017; 2019a) and backing as grounding (see Sjölin Wirling 2020). Finally, I put forward my own proposal. I argue that under plausible assumptions about the role (...) of backing and the nature of explanation, backing should be understood as a form of truthmaking, minimally construed. (shrink)
This paper explores a middle way between realism and eliminativism about grounding. Grounding-talk is intelligible and useful, but it fails to pick out grounding relations that exist or obtain in reality. Instead, grounding-talk allows us to convey facts about what metaphysically explains what, and about the worldly dependence relations that give rise to those explanations.
This paper is about the so-called meta-grounding question, i.e. the question of what grounds grounding facts of the sort ‘φ is grounded in Γ ’. An answer to this question is pressing since some plausible assumptions about grounding and fundamentality entail that grounding facts must be grounded. There are three different accounts on the market which each answer the meta-grounding question differently: Bennett’s and deRosset’s “Straight Forward Account” (SFA), Litland’s “Zero-Grounding Account” (ZGA), and “Grounding Essentialism” (GE). I argue that if (...) grounding is to be regarded as metaphysical explanation (i.e. if unionism is true), (GE) is to be preferred over (ZGA) and (SFA) as only (GE) is compatible with a crucial consequence of the thought that grounding is metaphysical explanation. In this manner the paper contributes not only to discussions about the ground of ground but also to the ongoing debate concerning the relationship between ground, essence, and explanation. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to introduce, elucidate and defend the usefulness of a variant of grounding, or metaphysical explanation, that has the feature that the grounds explain of some states of affairs that one of them obtains without explaining which one obtains. I will dub this variant arbitrary grounding. After informally elucidating the basic idea in the first section, I will provide three metaphysical hypotheses that are best formulated in terms of arbitrary grounding in the second section. The (...) third section will be concerned with the relation between arbitrary grounding and non-arbitrary grounding. The fourth section will compare arbitrary grounding to two extant proposals in the literature. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes bruteness from fundamentality by developing a theory of stochastic grounding that makes room for non-fundamental bruteness. Stochastic grounding relations, which only underwrite incomplete explanations, arise when the fundamental level underdetermines derivative levels. The framework is applied to fission cases, showing how one can break symmetries and mitigate bruteness whilst avoiding arbitrariness and hypersensitivity.
What distinguishes causation from grounding? One suggestion is that causation, but not grounding, occurs over time. Recently, however, counterexamples to this simple temporal criterion have been offered. In this paper, we situate the temporal criterion within a broader framework that focuses on two aspects: locational overlapping in space and time and the presence of intermediaries in space and time. We consider, and reject, the idea that the difference between grounding and causation is that grounding can occur without intermediaries. We go (...) on to use the fact that grounding and causation both involve intermediaries to develop a better temporal criterion for distinguishing causation from grounding. The criterion is this: when a cause and effect are spatially disjoint, there is always a chain of causal intermediaries between the cause and the effect that are extended in time. By contrast, when the grounds and the grounded are spatially disjoint, there is always a chain of grounding intermediaries, but the chain need not be extended in time, it can be purely spatial. The difference between grounding and causation, then, is that causation requires time for chaining in a way that grounding does not. (shrink)
Are identity criteria grounding principles? A prima facie answer to this question is positive. Specifically, two-level identity criteria can be taken as principles related to issues of identity among objects of a given kind compared with objects of a more basic kind. Moreover, they are grounding metaphysical principles of some objects with regard to others. In the first part of the paper we criticise this prima facie natural reading of identity criteria. This result does not mean that identity criteria could (...) not be taken as grounding principles. In the second part, we propose some basic steps towards a conceptual reading of grounding. Such a way of understanding it goes along with an epistemic reading of identity criteria. (shrink)
Ontological dependence and grounding are two important items in the metaphysician’s toolbox: both notions can be used to formulate important philosophical claims and to define other notions that play a central role in philosophical theorising. Philosophical inquiry about ontological dependence and (especially) grounding has been very lively over the past few years, making it difficult to write a short review article on any of them, let alone a short review article on both. I try to reach a good compromise between (...) a discussion of each notion taken separately and a discussion of how they relate to one another. I begin by introducing the notions and discussing a number of their connections with modality (Sections 9.1 and 9.2), starting with grounding for systematic reasons (some important concepts of ontological dependence are defined in terms of grounding). I then further the discussion of how the notions are connected to each other, by arguing against the view that (partial) grounding is equivalent to (the converse of) ontological dependence between facts (Section 9.3). Finally, I discuss their respective roles in the theory of fundamentality (Section 9.4). (shrink)
Grounding is a hyperintensional notion: necessarily equivalent sentences need not be equivalent from a ground-theoretic perspective. How fine-grained, exactly, is grounding? There is a striking lack of consensus on this question. In this chapter, I try to systematize and review the main options that have been put forward in the literature. For reasons that have to do with both naturalness and convenience, I for the most part take the question to be about what is sometimes called, following Kit Fine’s (2012a) (...) terminology, strict full grounding, and I take for granted a conception of grounding as a relation that is many-to-one and non-factive. I discuss the consequences of making alternative assumptions only in the very last section. (shrink)
Is metaphysical grounding One or Many? If you think grounding is one, you are a monist; there is one (or one fundamental) kind of grounding. If you think grounding is Many, you are a pluralist; there are multiple (or multiple equally fundamental) kinds of grounding. This essay surveys the ways in which one could be a pluralist about grounding.
Fundamentality plays a pivotal role in discussions of ontology, supervenience, and possibility, and other key topics in metaphysics. However, there are two different ways of characterising the fundamental: as that which is not grounded, and as that which is the ground of everything else. I show that whether these two characterisations pick out the same property turns on a principle—which I call “Dichotomy”—that is of independent interest in the theory of ground: that everything is either fully grounded or not even (...) partially grounded. I then argue that Dichotomy fails: some facts have partial grounds that cannot be complemented to a full ground. Rejecting Dichotomy opens the door to recognising a bifurcation in our notion of fundamentality. I sketch some of the far-reaching metaphysical consequences this might have, with reference to big-picture views such as Humeanism. Since Dichotomy is entailed by the standard account of partial ground, according to which partial grounds are subpluralities of full grounds, a non-standard account is needed. In a technical “Appendix”, I show that truthmaker semantics furnishes such an account, and identify a semantic condition that corresponds to Dichotomy. (shrink)
Jon Erling Litland’s “Meta-Ground” is concerned with the question: If A grounds B, what grounds the fact that A grounds B? His chapter begins by discussing what turns on this question. The chapter then compares the two main existing solutions to the problem of meta-ground. It ends by discussing how the problem of meta-ground is connected to other issues in the theory of ground and what are the main issues for future research.
Many philosophers take purportedly logical cases of ground ) to be obvious cases, and indeed such cases have been used to motivate the existence of and importance of ground. I argue against this. I do so by motivating two kinds of semantic determination relations. Intuitions of logical ground track these semantic relations. Moreover, our knowledge of semantics for first order logic can explain why we have such intuitions. And, I argue, neither semantic relation can be a species of ground even (...) on a quite broad conception of what ground is. Hence, without a positive argument for taking so-called ‘logical ground’ to be something distinct from a semantic determination relation, we should cease treating logical cases as cases of ground. (shrink)
Grounding pluralism is the view that there are multiple kinds of grounding. In this essay, I motivate and defend an explanation-theoretic view of grounding pluralism. Specifically, I argue that there are two kinds of grounding: why-grounding—which tells us why things are the case—and how-grounding—which tells us how things are the case.
A generic grounding claim is a grounding claim that isn’t about any particular entity or fact. For example, consider the claim: an act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness. One natural idea is that generic grounding claims state mere regularities of ground. So if an act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness, then every possible right act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness. The generic claim generalizes over particular grounding relations. In this essay, I argue that this (...) simple story is wrong. Generic grounding claims are not merely quantificational; rather, they express real definitions, where real definitions are (in part) claims about essence. My view has two major upshots: ('i') it makes better sense of debates where generic grounding claims are at issue (like debates about moral laws); ('ii') it clarifies the distinction between reductive and non-reductive metaphysical theories. (shrink)
Most facts of grounding involve nonfundamental concepts, and thus must themselves be grounded. But how? The leading approaches—due to Bennett, deRosset, and Dagupta—are subject to objections. The way forward is to deny a presupposition common to the leading approaches, that there must be some simple formula governing how grounding facts are grounded. Everyone agrees that facts about cities might be grounded in some complex way about which we know little; we should say the same about the facts of grounding themselves. (...) The kinds of facts that might enter into the grounds of the facts of grounding are explored at length. (shrink)
Recently, many philosophers have claimed that the world has an ordered, hierarchical structure, where entities at lower ontological levels are said to metaphysically ground entities at higher ontological levels. Other philosophers have recently claimed that our language has an ordered, hierarchical structure. Semantically primitive sentences are said to conceptually ground less primitive sentences. It’s often emphasized that metaphysical grounding is a relation between things out in the world, not a relation between our sentences. But conflating these relations is easy to (...) do, given that both types of grounding are expressed by non-causal “in-virtue-of” claims. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the relation between metaphysical and conceptual grounding. I argue that conceptual and metaphysical grounding are exclusive: if a given in-virtue-of claim involves conceptual grounding, then it does not involve metaphysical grounding. I also develop some heuristics for deciding which type of grounding is relevant in a given case. These heuristics suggest that many proposed cases of metaphysical grounding do not actually involve metaphysical grounding at all. (shrink)
In this paper, I clarify the relation between two types of grounding: metaphysical and conceptual. Metaphysical grounding relates entities at more and less fundamental ontological levels. Conceptual grounding relates semantically primitive sentences and semantically derivative sentences. It is important to distinguish these relations given that both types of grounding can underwrite non-causal “in-virtue-of” claims. In this paper, I argue that conceptual and metaphysical grounding are exclusive: if a given in-virtue-of claim involves conceptual grounding, then it does not involve metaphysical grounding. (...) I then present two heuristics for deciding which type of grounding is relevant to a given case. These heuristics suggest that certain proposed cases of metaphysical grounding may not actually involve metaphysical grounding at all. (shrink)
The grounding relation is routinely characterized by means of logical postulates. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, I show that a subset of those postulates is incompatible with a minimal characterization of metaphysical modality. Then I consider a number of ways for reconciling ground with modality. The simplest and most elegant solution consists in adopting serious actualism, which is best captured within a first-order modal language with predicate abstraction governed by negative free logic. I also explore a number (...) of alternative strategies by revising the ground-theoretic postulates, while keeping the modal ones fixed. As I argue, each of those strategies is either unviable, highly contentious, or insufficiently motivated. (shrink)
It is widely acknowledged that some truths or facts don’t have a minimal full ground [see e.g. Fine ]. Every full ground of them contains a smaller full ground. In this paper I’ll propose a minimality constraint on immediate grounding and I’ll show that it doesn’t fall prey to the arguments that tell against an unqualified minimality constraint. Furthermore, the assumption that all cases of grounding can be understood in terms of immediate grounding will be defended. This assumption guarantees that (...) the proposed minimality constraint is significant for all cases of grounding. With its help one can get a clear grip on the relevance of grounding, a feature that will be put to use in the penultimate section. (shrink)