Truthmaking as an Account of How Grounding Facts Hold

Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 29 (2):11-32 (2015)
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Abstract

Grounding, as a way to articulate ontological dependence, faces the problem of what grounds grounding facts themselves (such as the fact that the singleton of Socrates is grounded in Socrates). This problem stems from the need to account for the holding of grounding facts, which generates the hierarchical structure of ontological dependence. Within the grounding framework, grounding facts are either ungrounded or grounded. I will first argue that neither option can provide us with a satisfactory account. The main reason is that non-fundamental entities have to be counted as fundamental or involved in the essences of fundamental entities in order for either of the two options to work—the non-fundamental is being smuggled into the fundamental. My suggestion is to appeal to the notion of truthmaking and tackle the problem about the holding of grounding facts outside the grounding framework—instead of asking what grounds grounding facts, I ask what makes grounding claims true. Truthmaking is a prima facie relation holding between the representational and the non-representational such that the latter makes the former true. With the principle ‘if hpi is true, then it is a fact that p,’ we can account for the holding of grounding facts in a derivative sense. As a proposition contains the information about its truthmaker, the nature of grounding claims will tell us how grounding facts hold. I accept a realm of concepts which make up propositions (which might be needed already if there are propositions and propositions are compositional). These concepts will act as part of the truthmaker for grounding claims (in addition to the non-conceptual fundamental entities)—the concept of the ground must figure in the concept of the grounded. For a concept to figure in another, it is to be involved in the constitutive essence of the latter (analogous to Kit Fine’s idea that the ground of a grounded entity figures in the essence of the grounded entity). This account will not smuggle anything non-fundamental into the fundamental realm. The implication is that ontological dependence stems from our different kinds of conceptualisations (perhaps of the same stuff, as in the concepts of water and H2O), which justifies metaphysicians’ armchair method.

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Jack Yip
University of Connecticut

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