Metaphysics 3 (1):33-54 (2020)

I expand modal normativism, a theory of metaphysical modality, to give a normativist account of metaphysical explanation. According to modal normativism, basic modal claims do not have a descriptive function, but instead have the normative function of enabling language users to express semantic rules that govern the use of ordinary non-modal vocabulary. However, a worry for modal normativism is that it doesn’t keep up with all of the important and interesting metaphysics we can do by giving and evaluating metaphysical explanations. So, I advance modal normativism by arguing that metaphysical explanations also have a normative rather than descriptive function. In particular, non-causal explanatory claims have formal and semantic properties that make them expressively stricter than basic modal claims and so are better suited to express fine-grained aspects of semantic rules. A major payoff of my normativist account of metaphysical explanations is that it yields a plausible story about how we come to evaluate and know metaphysical explanations—we do this primarily by conceptual analysis. I also respond to a number of objections, including the objection that the epistemic payoffs of my view are not worth the metaphysical costs.
Keywords grounding   explanation   modality   essence   real definition   normativism   quasi-realism   metaphysical laws
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DOI 10.5334/met.35
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References found in this work BETA

Essence and Modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.
Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Against Grounding Necessitarianism.Alexander Skiles - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (4):717-751.
Grounding, Essence, And Identity.Fabrice Correia & Alexander Skiles - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):642-670.
The Possibility of Physicalism.Shamik Dasgupta - 2014 - Journal of Philosophy 111 (9-10):557-592.

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