This paper offers a new account of metaphysical explanation. The account is modelled on Kitcher’s (1981/1989) unificationist approach to scientific explanation. We begin, in Section Two, by briefly introducing the notion of metaphysical explanation and outlining the target of analysis. After that, we introduce a unificationist account of metaphysical explanation (Section Three) before arguing that such an account is capable of capturing four core features of metaphysical explanations: (i) irreflexivity, (ii) non-monotonicity, (iii) asymmetry and (iv) relevance. Since the unificationist theory (...) of metaphysical explanation inherits irreflexivity and non-monotonicity directly from the unificationist theory of scientific explanation that underwrites it, we focus on demonstrating how the account can secure asymmetry and relevance (Section Four). (shrink)
Priority monism is roughly the view that the universe is the only fundamental object, that is, a concrete object that does not depend on any other concrete object. Schaffer, the main advocate of PM, claims that PM is compatible with dependence having two different directions: from parts to wholes for subcosmic wholes, and from whole to parts for the cosmic whole. Recently it has been argued that this position is untenable. Given plausible assumptions about dependence, PM entails that dependence has (...) only one direction, it always goes from wholes to parts. One such plausible assumption is a principle of Isolation. I argue that, given all extant accounts of dependence on the market, PM entails No Isolation. The argument depends upon a particular feature of the dependence relation, namely, necessitation and its direction. In the light of this, I contend that the argument is important, insofar as it suggests that we should distinguish dependence from other cognate notions, e.g. grounding. Once this distinction is made, I suggest we should also distinguish between two different notions of fundamentality that might turn out to be not-coextensive. (shrink)
I present an argument for the view that laws ground their instances. I then outline two important consequences that follow if we accept the conclusion of this argument. First, the claim that laws ground their instances threatens to undermine a prominent recent attempt to make sense of the explanatory power of Humean laws by distinguishing between metaphysical and scientific explanation. And second, the claim that laws ground their instances gives rise to a novel argument against the view that grounding relations (...) are metaphysically necessary. (shrink)
Supervenience is necessary co-variation between two sets of entities. In the good old days, supervenience was considered a useful philosophical tool with a wide range of applications in the philosophy of mind, metaethics, epistemology, and elsewhere. In recent years, however, supervenience has fallen out of favor, giving place to grounding, realization, and other, more metaphysically “meaty”, notions. The emerging consensus is that there are principled reasons for which explanatory theses cannot be captured in terms of supervenience, or as the slogan (...) goes: “Supervenience Is Nonexplanatory”. While SIN is widely endorsed, it is far from clear what it amounts to and why we should believe it. In this paper, I will distinguish various theses that could be meant by it, and will argue that none of them is both interesting and plausible: on some interpretations of ‘explanatory’, we have no reason to believe that supervenience is unexplanatory, while on other interpretations, supervenience is indeed unexplanatory, but widely accepted textbook cases of explanatory relations come out as unexplanatory, too. This result raises doubts as to whether there is any interesting sense in which SIN is true, and suggests that the contemporary consensus about supervenience is mistaken. (shrink)
According to the doctrine of eternal generation, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father. Although the doctrine is enshrined in the Creed of Nicaea and has been affirmed by Christians for nearly 17,000 years, many Protestants have recently rejected the doctrine. Eternal generation, its detractors contend, is both philosophically and theologically suspect. In this article, I propose a model of eternal generation and demonstrate how it avoids standard philosophical and theological objections. Eternal generation, I argue, can be understood as (...) a form of essential dependence. To say that the Son is begotten of the Father is just to say that the Son essentially depends on the Father. The essence of the Son involves the Father, but not vice versa. (shrink)
Grounding theorists insist that grounding and explanation are intimately related. This claim could be understood as saying either that grounding ‘inherits’ its properties from explanation or it could be interpreted as saying that grounding plays an important—possibly an indispensable—role in metaphysical explanation. Or both. I argue that saying that grounding ‘inherits’ its properties from explanation can only be justified if grounding is explanatory by nature, but that this view is untenable. We ought therefore to be ‘separatists’ and view grounding and (...) explanation as distinct. As it turns out, though, once grounding has been in this sense distinguished from the explanation it backs, the view that the role grounding plays in explanation justifies its introduction ends up in serious trouble. I conclude that the role grounding plays in explanation does not justify attributing to grounding whatever nature we think it has, and it most likely does not give us any special reason to think grounding exists. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen presented a powerful argument against the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which I henceforth abbreviate as ‘PSR’. For decades, the consensus was that this argument successfully refuted PSR. However, now a growing consensus holds that van Inwagen’s argument is fatally flawed, at least when ‘sufficient reason’ is understood in terms of ground, for on this understanding, an ineliminable premiss of van Inwagen’s argument is demonstrably false and cannot be repaired. I will argue that this growing consensus is mistaken (...) and that a powerful argument relevantly similar to van Inwagen’s should still concern us, even when we understand ‘sufficient reason’ in terms of ground. (shrink)
Many think that sentences about what metaphysically explains what are true iff there exist grounding relations. This suggests that sceptics about grounding should be error theorists about metaphysical explanation. We think there is a better option: a theory of metaphysical explanation which offers truth conditions for claims about what metaphysically explains what that are not couched in terms of grounding relations, but are instead couched in terms of, inter alia, psychological facts. We do not argue that our account is superior (...) to grounding-based accounts. Rather, we offer it to those already ill-disposed towards grounding. (shrink)
It is wrong for John to kick my cat because it will cause the cat serious pain, but also because it is wrong for people to cause serious pain in certain circumstances. This suggests the following structure: some normative facts hold in virtue of both non-normative facts and normative principles. As I will construe this, it is a claim about the metaphysical grounds of normative facts. Many non-naturalists about the normative want to endorse this view generally—that particular normative facts are (...) often partially grounded in normative principles. In this paper, I argue that non-naturalism is inconsistent with this thesis about partial grounding in principles, due to the nature of normative principles and their grounds. I then consider two ways in which the non-naturalist position could be modified or expanded to solve this problem. No solution, it turns out, is without its problems. I propose, then, that non-naturalists should abandon the view that principles partially ground particular normative facts, in favor of a different role for principles. (shrink)
In this paper, I both propose and discuss a novel account of truthmaking. I begin by showing what truthmaking is not: it is not grounding and it is not correspondence. I then show what truthmaking is by offering an account that appeals both to grounding and what I call ‘deep correspondence’. After I present the account and show that it is an account that unifies, I put it to work by showing how it can overcome an objection to truthmaking, how (...) we can get truthmaking from correspondence, what it says about truthmaker necessitation, and how it can explain a connection between truthmaker maximalism and pluralism about truth. (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)
This paper focuses on the concept of collective essence: that some truths are essential to many items taken together. For example, that it is essential to conjunction and negation that they are truth-functionally complete. The concept of collective essence is one of the main innovations of recent work on the theory of essence. In a sense, this innovation is natural, since we make all sorts of plural predications. It stands to reason that there should be a distinction between essential and (...) accidental plural predications if there is a distinction among singular predications. In this paper I defend the view that the concept of collective essence is governed by the principle of Monotonicity: that something is essential to some items only if it is essential to any items to which they belong. (shrink)
I develop a reduction of grounding to essence. My approach is to think about the relation between grounding and essence on the model of a certain conceptof existential dependence. I extend this concept of existential dependence in a coupleof ways and argue that these extensions provide a reduction of grounding to essenceif we use sorted variables that range over facts and take it that for a fact to obtain is forit to exist. I then use the account to resolve various (...) issues surrounding the concept of grounding and its connection with essence; apply the account to paradigm cases andto the impure logic of grounding; and respond to objections. (shrink)
Ockham's razor asks that we not multiply entities beyond necessity. The razor is a powerful methodological tool, enabling us to articulate reasons for preferring one theory to another. There are those, however, who would modify the razor. Schaffer, for one, tells us that, ‘I think the proper rendering of Ockham's razor should be ‘Do not multiply fundamental entities without necessity’’. Our aim, here, is to challenge such re-workings of Ockham's razor.
I argue—contra moderate grounding pluralists such as Kit Fine and more extreme grounding pluralists such as Jessica Wilson—that there is fundamentally only one grounding/in-virtue-of relation. I also argue that this single relation is indispensable for normative theorizing—that we can’t make sense of, for example, the debate over consequentialism without it. It follows from what I argue that there is no metaethically-pure normative ethics.
This paper surveys some of the grounding literature searching for points of contact between theories of ground and science. I find that there are some places where a would-be naturalistic grounding theorist can draw inspiration. I synthesize a list of recommendations for how science may be put to use in theories of ground. I conclude that the prospects for naturalizing the metaphysics of ground are bright.
Anscombe thought that practical knowledge – a person’s knowledge of what she is intentionally doing – displays formal differences to ordinary empirical, or ‘speculative’, knowledge. I suggest these differences rest on the fact that practical knowledge involves intention analogously to how speculative knowledge involves belief. But this claim conflicts with the standard conception of knowledge, according to which knowledge is an inherently belief-involving phenomenon. Building on John Hyman’s account of knowledge as the ability to use a fact as a reason, (...) I develop an alternative, two-tier, epistemology which allows that knowledge might really come in a belief-involving and an intention-involving form. (shrink)
Recently, Kroedel and Schulz have argued that the exclusion problem—which states that certain forms of non-reductive physicalism about the mental are committed to systematic and objectionable causal overdetermination—can be solved by appealing to grounding. Specifically, they defend a principle that links the causal relations of grounded mental events to those of grounding physical events, arguing that this renders mental–physical causal overdetermination unproblematic. Here, we contest Kroedel and Schulz’s result. We argue that their causal-grounding principle is undermotivated, if not outright false. (...) In particular, we contend that the principle has plausible counterexamples, resulting from the fact that some mental states are not fully grounded by goings on ‘in our heads’ but also require external factors to be included in their full grounds. We draw the sceptical conclusion that it remains unclear whether non-reductive physicalists can plausibly respond to the exclusion argument by appealing to considerations of grounding. (shrink)
The aim of this editorial introduction is twofold. First, Sects. 1–8 oﬀer a critical introduction to the metaphysical character of physicalism. In those sections, I present and evaluate different ways in which proponents of physicalism have made explicit the metaphysical dependence that is said to hold between the non-physical and the physical. Some of these accounts are found to be problematic; others are shown to be somewhat more promising. In the end, some important lessons are drawn and different options for (...) physicalists are presented. Second, in Sect.9, the six papers that comprise the special issue are introduced and summarized. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to bring recent work on metaphysical grounding to bear on the phenomenon of social construction. It is argued that grounding can be used to analyze social construction and that the grounding framework is helpful for articulating various claims and commitments of social constructionists, especially about social identities, e.g., gender and race. The paper also responds to a number of objections that have been leveled against the application of grounding to social construction from Elizabeth Barnes, (...) Mari Mikkola, and Jessica Wilson. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to make headway on a metaphysics of social construction. In recent work, I’ve argued that social construction should be understood in terms of metaphysical grounding. However, I agree with grounding skeptics like Wilson that bare claims about what grounds what are insufficient for capturing, with fine enough grain, metaphysical dependence structures. To that end, I develop a view on which the social construction of human social kinds is a kind of realization relation. Social kinds, (...) I argue, are multiply realizable kinds. I depart from the Wilson by further arguing that an appeal to grounding is not otiose when it comes to social construction. Social construction, I claim, belongs to the “big-G” Grounding genus, but it is the specific “small-g” relation of realization at work in cases of human kind social construction. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently found it congenial to talk in terms of grounding. Grounding discourse features grounding sentences that are answers to questions about what grounds what. The goal of this article is to explore and defend a counterpart-theoretic interpretation of grounding discourse. We are familiar with David Lewis's applications of the method of counterpart theory to de re modal discourse. Counterpart-theoretic interpretations of de re modal idioms and grounding sentences share similar motivations, mechanisms, and applications. I shall (...) explain my motivations and describe two applications of a counterpart theory for grounding discourse. But, in this article, my main focus is on counterpart-theoretic mechanisms. (shrink)
Philosophical analysis was the central preoccupation of 20th-century analytic philosophy. In the contemporary methodological debate, however, it faces a number of pressing external and internal challenges. While external challenges, like those from experimental philosophy or semantic externalism, have been extensively discussed, internal challenges to philosophical analysis have received much less attention. One especially vexing internal challenge is that the success conditions of philosophical analysis are deeply unclear. According to the standard textbook view, a philosophical analysis aims at a strict biconditional (...) that captures the necessary and sufficient conditions for membership in the relevant category. The textbook view arguably identifies a necessary condition on successful philosophical analyses, but understood as a sufficient condition it is untenable, as I will argue in this paper. To this end, I first uncover eight conditions of adequacy on successful philosophical analyses, some of which have rarely been spelled out in detail. As we shall see, even sophisticated alternatives to the textbook view fail to accommodate some of these conditions. I then propose the concept grounding view as a more promising account of philosophical analysis. According to this view, successful philosophical analyses require necessary biconditionals that are constrained by grounding relations among the concepts involved. Apart from providing a satisfactory account of philosophical analysis in its own right, the concept grounding view is also able to meet the challenge that the success conditions of philosophical analysis are problematically unclear. (shrink)
Metaphysical views typically draw some distinction between reality and appearance, endorsing realism about some subject matters and antirealism about others. There are different conceptions of how best to construe antirealist theories. A simple view has it that we are antirealists about a subject matter when we believe that this subject matter fails to obtain. This paper discusses an alternative view, which I will call the fundamentality-based conception of antirealism. We are antirealists in this sense when we think that the relevant (...) matter fails to be constitutive of fundamental reality. The following discussion will not rely on any particular understanding of fundamental reality, covering conceptions based on grounding, naturalness and truthmaking, to name three salient ones. This paper argues that there are serious issues with fundamentality-based metaphysics. It will be argued that: the fundamentality-based approach shapes and restricts our realist and antirealist views in unsatisfying ways, that it is unable to handle the conflicting facts that lie across the envisaged ‘layers’ of the metaphysically structured world, and that the methodological reasons for adopting the fundamentality-based approach fail. The paper will conclude with a diagnosis of the discussed issues, identifying a common source. (shrink)
Fine (2012) is a pluralist about grounding. He holds that there are three fundamentally distinct notions of grounding: metaphysical, normative, and natural. Berker (2017) argues for monism on the grounds that the pluralist cannot account for certain principles describing how the distinct notions of grounding interact. This paper defends pluralism. By building on work by Fine (2010) and Litland (2015) I show how the pluralist can systematically account for Berker's interaction principles.
This article develops the Pure Logic of Iterated Full Ground (PLIFG), a logic of ground that can deal with claims of the form “ϕ grounds that (ψ grounds θ)”—what we call iterated grounding claims. The core idea is that some truths Γ ground a truth ϕ when there is an explanatory argument (of a certain sort) from premisses Γ to conclusion ϕ. By developing a deductive system that distinguishes between explanatory and nonexplanatory arguments we can give introduction rules for operators (...) for factive and nonfactive full ground, as well as for a propositional “identity” connective. Elimination rules are then found by using a proof-theoretic inversion principle. (shrink)
Most recently Smart and Thébault revived an almost forgotten debate between Katzav and Ellis on the compatibility of Hamilton’s Principle with Dispositional Essentialism. Katzav’s arguments inter alia aim to show that HP presupposes a kind of metaphysical contingency which is at odds with the basic tenets of DE, and offers explanations of a different type and direction from those given by DE. In this paper I argue that though dispositional essentialists might adequately respond to these arguments, the question about the (...) compatibility of HP with DE has not been answered yet; therefore, dispositional essentialists have not yet provided an illuminating DE-friendly metaphysical account of HP. (shrink)
Ethical non-naturalists often charge that their naturalist competitors cannot adequately explain the distinctive normativity of moral or more broadly practical concepts. I argue that the force of the charge is mitigated, because non-naturalism is ultimately committed to a kind of mysterianism about the metaphysics of practical norms that possesses limited explanatory power. I then show that focusing on comparative judgments about the explanatory power of various metaethical theories raises additional problems for the non-naturalist, and suggest grounds for optimism that a (...) naturalistic realist about practical normativity will ultimately be able to explain the distinctive normativity of practical norms. I then show that radical pluralism or particularism about the structure of normative ethics would complicate the naturalistic strategy that I defend. This suggests a perhaps surprising way in which the resolution of the debate between ethical naturalists and non-naturalists may rest in part on the answers to substantive normative questions. (shrink)
Existential grounding is the thesis that all existential generalizations are grounded in their particular instances. This paper argues that existential grounding is false. This is because it is inconsistent with two plausible claims about existence: the claim that singular existence facts are generalizations and the claim that no object can be involved in a fact that grounds that same object's existence. Not only are these claims intuitively plausible, but there are also strong arguments in favour of each of them.
Primitives are both important and unavoidable, and which set of primitives we endorse will greatly shape our theories and how those theories provide solutions to the problems that we take to be important. After introducing the notion of a primitive posit, I discuss the different kinds of primitives that we might posit. Following Cowling (2013), I distinguish between ontological and ideological primitives, and, following Benovsky (2013) between functional and content views of primitives. I then propose that these two distinctions cut (...) across each other leading to four types of primitive posits. I then argue that theoretical virtues should be taken to be meta-theoretical ideological primitives. I close with some reflections on the global nature of comparing sets of primitives. (shrink)
Kit Fine and Gideon Rosen propose to define constitutive essence in terms of ground-theoretic notions and some form of consequential essence. But we think that the Fine–Rosen proposal is a mistake. On the Fine–Rosen proposal, constitutive essence ends up including properties that, on the central notion of essence, are necessary but not essential. This is because consequential essence is closed under logical consequence, and the ability of logical consequence to add properties to an object’s consequential essence outstrips the ability of (...) ground-theoretic notions, as used in the Fine–Rosen proposal, to take those properties out. The necessary-but-not-essential properties that, on the Fine–Rosen proposal, end up in constitutive essence include the sorts of necessary-but-not-essential properties that, others have noted, end up in consequential essence. (shrink)
Emergence is intuitively characterized as dependent novelty. Yet, besides this intuition, several formulations of it were elaborated in the last decades. In this article, after having distinguished between two different varieties of emergence, I aim at providing two formulation schemes for emergence. This could help to explain what emergence is and to clarify and unify the suggested formulations. The general idea behind my schemes is that emergence is partial and qualified dependence of the emergent entities on their emergence bases. After (...) having examined several formulations of emergences and presented my schemes, I shall analyse two interesting consequences of the acceptance of the latter: the in principle compatibility between weak and strong emergence and the idea that micro-physicalism, i.e., the main competitor of emergentism, may actually come in different degrees of strength, more or less in contrast with emergentism. Eventually, I shall briefly compare my formulation schemes with some other relevantly similar proposals. (shrink)
Dualism holds that some mental events are fundamental and non-physical. I develop a prima facie plausible causal argument for dualism. The argument has several significant implications. First, it constitutes a new way of arguing for dualism. Second, it provides dualists with a parity response to causal arguments for physicalism. Third, it transforms the dialectical role of epiphenomenalism. Fourth, it refutes the view that causal considerations prima facie support physicalism but not dualism. After developing the causal argument for dualism and drawing (...) out these implications, I subject the argument to a battery of objections. Some prompt revisions to the argument. Others reveal limitations in scope. It falls out of the discussion that the causal argument for dualism is best used against physicalism as a keystone in a divide and conquer strategy. (shrink)
In this chapter, a generic definition of fundamentality as an ontological minimality thesis is sought and its applicability examined. Most discussions of fundamentality are focused on a mereological understanding of the hierarchical structure of reality, which may be combined with an atomistic, object-oriented metaphysics. But recent work in structuralism, for instance, calls for an alternative understanding and it is not immediately clear that the conception of fundamentality at work in structuralism is commensurable with the mereological conception. However, it is proposed (...) that once we understand fundamentality as an ontological minimality thesis, these two as well as further conceptions of fundamentality can all be treated on a par, including metaphysical infinitism of the ‘boring’ type, where the same structure repeats infinitely. (shrink)
As a first pass, physicalism is the doctrine that there is nothing over and above the physical. Much recent philosophical work has been devoted to spelling out what this means in more rigorous terms and to assessing the case for the view. What follows is a survey of such work. I begin by looking at competing accounts of what is meant by nothing over and above and then turn to how the physical should be understood. Once we are clear on (...) the options for formulating the physicalist thesis, we will look at the leading argument for the view. Along the way, I will suggest avenues for further exploration. (shrink)
I argue that there is an important similarity between causation and grounding. In particular I argue that, just as there is a type of scientific explanation that appeals to causal mechanisms—causal-mechanical explanation—there is a type of metaphysical explanation that appeals to grounding mechanisms—grounding-mechanical explanation. The upshot is that the role that grounding mechanisms play in certain metaphysical explanations mirrors the role that causal mechanisms play in certain scientific explanations. In this light, it becomes clear that grounding-mechanical explanations make crucial contributions (...) to the evaluation of a variety of important philosophical theses, including priority monism and physicalism. (shrink)
There is a systematic and suggestive analogy between grounding and causation. In my view, this analogy is no coincidence. Grounding and causation are alike because grounding is a type of causation: metaphysical causation. In this paper I defend the identification of grounding with metaphysical causation, drawing on the causation literature to explore systematic connections between grounding and metaphysical dependence counterfactuals, and I outline a non-reductive counterfactual theory of grounding along interventionist lines.
The doctrine of divine simplicity has recently been ably defended, but very little work has been done considering reasons to believe God is simple. This paper begins to address this lack. I consider whether divine aseity or the related notion of divine sovereignty provide us with good reason to affirm divine simplicity. Divine complexity has sometimes been thought to imply that God would possess an efficient cause; or, alternatively, that God would be grounded by God’s constituents. I argue that divine (...) complexity implies neither of these, and so that a complex God could also exist a se. Similarly, a complex God might be thought less sovereign than a simple God, due to lacking control over the divine constituents. I argue in reply that a complex God either has just as much control as a simple God, or that a complex God’s relative lack of control should cause no theological problems. The upshot is that neither the doctrines of divine aseity or of divine sovereignty give theists good reason to endorse divine simplicity. (shrink)
This paper argues that scientific realism commits us to a metaphysical determination relation between the mathematical entities that are indispensible to scientific explanation and the modal structure of the empirical phenomena those entities explain. The argument presupposes that scientific realism commits us to the indispensability argument. The viewpresented here is that the indispensability of mathematics commits us not only to the existence of mathematical structures and entities but to a metaphysical determination relation between those entities and the modal structure of (...) the physical world. The no-miracles argument is the primary motivation for scientific realism. It is a presupposition of this argument that unobservable entities are explanatory only when they determine the empirical phenomena they explain. I argue that mathematical entities should also be seen as explanatory only when they determine the empirical facts they explain, namely, the modal structure of the physical world. Thus, scientific realism commits us to a metaphysical determination relation between mathematics and physical modality that has not been previously recognized. The requirement to account for the metaphysical dependence of modal physical structure on mathematics limits the class of acceptable solutions to the applicability problem that are available to the scientific realist. (shrink)
Humeans and anti-Humeans agree that laws of nature should explain scientifically particular matters of fact. One objection to Humean accounts of laws contends that Humean laws cannot explain particular matters of fact because their explanations are harmfully circular. This article distinguishes between metaphysical and semantic characterizations of the circularity and argues for a new semantic version of the circularity objection. The new formulation suggests that Humean explanations are harmfully circular because the content of the sentences being explained is part of (...) the content of the sentences doing the explaining. I describe the nature of partial content and demonstrate how this account of partial content renders Humean explanations ineffective while sparing anti-Humean explanations from the same fate. _1_ Introduction _2_ Standard Formulations of the Circularity Charge _3_ Humean Responses _4_ Semantic Characterizations of the Circularity Worry _4.1_ Hempel and Oppenheim’s semantic circularity concern _4.2_ A new version of the semantic circularity charge _4.3_ Partial content as a guide to circularity _5_ Humean Responses to the Semantic Circularity Charge _5.1_ Smuggling in metaphysics through the back door? _5.2_ Do anti-Humean laws fare any better? _5.3_ The over-generalization concern _6_ Conclusion Appendix. (shrink)
Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in metaphysical explanation, and philosophers have fixed on the notion of ground as the conceptual tool with which such explanation should be investigated. I will argue that this focus on ground is myopic and that some metaphysical explanations that involve the essences of things cannot be understood in terms of ground. Such ‘essentialist’ explanation is of interest, not only for its ubiquity in philosophy, but for its being in a sense an ultimate (...) form of explanation. I give an account of the sense in which such explanation is ultimate and support it by defending what I call the inessentiality of essence. I close by suggesting that this principle is the key to understanding why essentialist explanations can seem so satisfying. (shrink)