Structuring reality

Dissertation, University of Birmingham (2014)
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Abstract

This thesis explores attempts to characterise the structure of reality. Three notions stand out: Lewisian naturalness, Sider’s ‘structure’, and grounding, where the latter has become the most popular way to characterise the structure of reality in the contemporary literature. I argue that none of these notions, as they are currently understood, are suited for limning the metaphysical structure of reality. In the first part of the thesis I argue that, by the lights of the relevant theories, both naturalness and structure fall short of the theoretical role carved out for those posits. In the second part of the thesis I present two challenges to the ‘orthodox’ conception of grounding. The first contests the standard assumption that grounding is asymmetric, both by citing what I take to be best described as symmetric instances of grounding, and by developing and arguing for a new theory of metaphysical structure – ‘metaphysical interdependence’ – which takes grounding to be nonsymmetric. The second challenge concerns the relationship between grounding and explanation, and leads to a dilemma for the grounding theorist. My proposed resolution to the dilemma is to adopt an antirealist approach to grounding, which I further motivate and develop in the final chapter.

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Author's Profile

Naomi Thompson
University of Bristol

References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Ontological relativity and other essays.Willard Van Orman Quine (ed.) - 1969 - New York: Columbia University Press.

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