Grounding and ontological dependence

Synthese 198 (Suppl 6):1231-1256 (2021)
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Abstract

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.

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Henrik Rydéhn
University Tübingen

Citations of this work

Ontological Dependence.Tuomas E. Tahko & E. J. Lowe - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Atomism and Fundamentality.Benjamin Schnieder - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (3):551-574.
Skeptical Doubts.Kathrin Koslicki - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. London, UK: pp. 164-179.

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Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
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On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.

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