‘Space does not exist fundamentally: it emerges from a more fundamental non-spatial structure.’ This intriguing claim appears in various research programs in contemporary physics. Philosophers of physics tend to believe that this claim entails either that spacetime does not exist, or that it is derivatively real. In this article, I introduce and defend a third metaphysical interpretation of the claim: reductionism about space. I argue that, as a result, there is no need to subscribe to fundamentality, layers of reality (...) and emergence in order to analyse the constitution of space by non-spatial entities. It follows that space constitution, if borne out, does not provide empirical evidence in favour of a stratified, Aristotelian in spirit, metaphysics. The view will be described in relation to two particular research programs in contemporary physics: wave function realism and loop quantum gravity. (shrink)
A commonly held view is that a central aim of metaphysics is to give a fundamental account of reality which refers only to the fundamental entities. But a puzzle arises. It is at least a working hypothesis for those pursuing the aim that, first, there must be fundamental entities. But, second, it also seems possible that the world has no foundation, with each entity depending on others. These two claims are inconsistent with the widely held third claim that the fundamental (...) just is the foundational. It is tempting to resolve the puzzle by rejecting the first or second claim, perhaps because it is obscure how the third claim might plausibly be challenged. But I develop a new analysis of fundamentality which challenges the third claim by allowing for an entity to be fundamental without being foundational. The analysis, roughly, is that an entity is fundamental just in case not all facts about it are grounded in facts about other entities. The possibility of fundamentality without foundations not only provides for a novel resolution to the puzzle, but has applications to some live debates: for example, it undermines Jonathan Schaffer's modal argument for priority monism. (shrink)
This is the first part of a two-tier overview article on fundamentality in metaphysics and the philosophy of physics. It provides an introduction to the notion of fundamentality in metaphysics, as well as to several related concepts. The key issues in the contemporary debate on the topic are summarised, making systematic reference to the most relevant literature. In particular, various ways in which the fundamental entities and the fundamental structure of reality may be conceived are illustrated and discussed. (...) A final brief section looks at the methodological issue of naturalism, paving the way for the survey of fundamentality in the philosophy of physics, which is carried out in the second part. (shrink)
A fundamental entity is an entity that is ‘ontologically independent’; it does not depend on anything else for its existence or essence. It seems to follow that a fundamental entity is ‘modally free’ in some sense. This assumption, that fundamentality entails modal freedom (or ‘FEMF’ as I shall label the thesis), is used in the service of other arguments in metaphysics. But as I will argue, the road from fundamentality to modal freedom is not so straightforward. The defender (...) of FEMF should provide positive reasons for believing it, especially in light of recent views that are incompatible with it. I examine both direct and indirect routes to FEMF. (shrink)
The notion of fundamentality, as it is used in metaphysics, aims to capture the idea that there is something basic or primitive in the world. This metaphysical notion is related to the vernacular use of “fundamental”, but philosophers have also put forward various technical definitions of the notion. Among the most influential of these is the definition of absolute fundamentality in terms of ontological independence or ungroundedness. Accordingly, the notion of fundamentality is often associated with these two (...) other technical notions. (shrink)
Steinberg has recently proposed an argument against Schaffer’s priority monism. The argument assumes the principle of Necessity of Monism, which states that if priority monism is true, then it is necessarily true. In this paper, I argue that Steinberg’s objection can be eluded by giving up Necessity of Monism for an alternative principle, that I call Essentiality of Fundamentality, and that such a principle is to be preferred to Necessity of Monism on other grounds as well.
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)
It can seem incoherent to fully characterize fundamentality in terms of grounding, given that the fundamental is precisely that which cannot be fully characterized independently. I argue that there is no such incoherence.
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)
Reality is hierarchically structured, or so proponents of the metaphysical posit of grounding argue. The less fundamental facts obtain in virtue of, or are grounded in, the more fundamental facts. But what exactly is it for one fact to be more fundamental than another? The aim of this paper is to provide a measure of relative fundamentality. I develop and defend an account of the metaphysical hierarchy that assigns to each fact a set of ordinals representing the levels on (...) which it occurs. The account allows one to compare any two facts with respect to their fundamentality and it uses immediate grounding as its sole primitive. In the first section, I will set the stage and point to some shortcomings of a rival account proposed by Karen Bennett. The second section will present my own proposal and the third section will discuss how it can be extended to non-foundationalist settings. The fourth section discusses potential objections. (shrink)
In metaphysics, fundamentality is a central theme involving debates on the nature of existents, as wholes. These debates are largely object-oriented in their standpoint and engage with composites or wholes through the mereological notion of compositionality. The ontological significance of the parts overrides that of wholes since the existence and identity of the latter are dependent on that of the former. Broadly, the candidates for fundamental entities are considered to be elementary particles of modern physics (since they appear to (...) play the role of ultimate parts to all phenomena). The paper intends to show the inadequacy of the object-oriented notion of conditionality by pointing out that the parts and wholes possess varying conditions of existence. By alleging that only the parts are ontologically significant is to conflate such conditions and neglect the spectrum of conditions which exist in our world. A proposal for a revised notion of compositionality in terms of structural relatedness is also put forward. (shrink)
The relation of being more fundamental than, as well as the Finean notion of partial grounding, are widely taken to be irreflexive, transitive, and asymmetric. However, certain time-travel cases that have been used to raise worries about the irreflexivity, transitivity, and asymmetry of proper part of can also be used to argue that more fundamental than and partially grounds do not have these formal properties. I present this worry and discuss several responses to it, with the aim of showing that (...) the problem is harder to address when applied to fundamentality and partial grounding than it was when merely applied to proper parthood. (shrink)
This essay has three goals. The first is to introduce the notion of fundamentality and to argue that physicalism can usefully be conceived of as a thesis about fundamentality. The second is to argue (i) for the advantages of fundamentality physicalism over modal formulations and (ii) that fundamentality physicalism is what many who endorse modal formulations of physicalism had in mind all along. Third, I describe what I take to be the main obstacle for a (...) class='Hi'>fundamentality-oriented formulation of physicalism: "the problem of abstracta", which asks how physical can accommodate phenomena such as mathematics and universals, and which modal formulations do not face. I canvas three solutions: the inapt for ground solution, the concrete restriction, and the contingency restriction. (shrink)
If we want to say what “fundamentality” means, we have to start by approaching what we generally see at the empty place of the predicate “____ is fundamental”. We generally talk about fundamental entities and fundamental theories. At this article, I tried to make a metaphysical approach of what is for something to be fundamental, and I also tried to talk a little bit of fundamental incomplete and complete theories. To do that, I start stating the notion of “entity” (...) and looking at the difference at perceived entities. The difference led us to talk about the entities’ structures and their powers, and about the supervenience between these last two. The supervenience talk made us to see the fight between emergentism and reductionism as the difference between the irreducibility of laws and the reducibility of powers and structures to lower-order domains. Then, we conclude that “fundamentality” is a mereological relation – a relation that a whole structure has to a certain combination of its structural parts or that a power has to a certain combination of its constituent powers – of to be identical and to exist in virtue of them. (shrink)
I describe a number of views in which metaphysical fundamentality is accounted for in normative terms. After describing many different ways this key idea could be developed, I turn to developing the idea in one specific way. After all, the more detailed the proposal, the easier it is to assess whether it works. The rough idea is that what it is for a property to be fundamental is for it to be prima facie obligatory to theorize in terms of (...) that property. (shrink)
In the recent literature on all things metaontological, discussion of a notorious Meinongian doctrine—the thesis that some objects have no kind of being at all—has been conspicuous by its absence. And this is despite the fact that this thesis is the central element of the noneist metaphysics of Richard Routley (1980) and Graham Priest (2005). In this paper, we therefore examine the metaontological foundations of noneism, with a view to seeing exactly how the noneist's approach to ontological inquiry differs from (...) the orthodox Quinean one. We proceed by arguing that the core anti-Quinean element in noneism has routinely been misidentified: rather than concerning Quine's thesis that to be is to be the value of a variable, the real difference is that the noneist rejects what we identify as Quine's “translate-and-deflate” methodology. In rejecting this aspect of Quinean orthodoxy, the noneist is in good company: many of those who think that questions of fundamentality should be the proper focus of ontological inquiry can be read as rejecting it too. Accordingly, we then examine the differences between the noneist's conception of ontology and that offered by the fundamentalist. We argue that these two anti-Quinean approaches differ in terms of their respective conceptions of the theoretical role associated with the notion of being. And the contrast that emerges between them is, in the end, an explanatory one. (shrink)
A traditional conception of ontology takes existence to be its proprietary subject matter—ontology is the study of what exists (§ 1). Recently, Jonathan Schaffer has argued that ontology is better thought of rather as the study of what is basic or fundamental in reality (§ 2). My goal here is twofold. First, I want to argue that while Schaffer’s characterization is quite plausible for some ontological questions, for others it is not (§ 3). More importantly, I want to offer a (...) unified characterization of ontology that covers both existence and fundamentality questions (§§ 4-5). (shrink)
I argue that dependence is neither necessary nor sufficient for relative fundamentality. I then introduce the notion of 'likeness in nature' and provide an account of relative fundamentality in terms of it and the notion of dependence. Finally, I discuss some puzzles that arise in Aristotle's Categories, to which the theory developed is applied.
I argue that life’s meaning is not only a distinct, gradational final value of individual lives, but also an “extradimensional” final value: the realization of meaning in life brings final value along an additional evaluative dimension, much as the realization of depth in solids or width in plane geometric figures brings magnitude along an additional spatial dimension. I go on to consider the extent to which Metz’s (2013) fundamentality theory respects the principle that life’s meaning is an extradimensional final (...) value, and consequently suggest that the theory may stand in need of further refinement and supplementation. (shrink)
The distribution of matter in our universe is strikingly time asymmetric. Most famously, the Second Law of Thermodynamics says that entropy tends to increase toward the future but not toward the past. But what explains this time-asymmetric distribution of matter? In this paper, I explore the idea that time itself has a direction by drawing from recent work on grounding and metaphysical fundamentality. I will argue that positing such a direction of time, in addition to time-asymmetric boundary conditions, enables (...) a better explanation of the thermodynamic asymmetry than is available otherwise. (shrink)
.In her Making Things Up, amongst the many other achievements of the volume, Bennett develops a rich account of relative fundamentality. She also defends a kind of deflationism about the notion: relative fundamentality is nothing over and above patterns of building. In this essay, I argue that the best and common competitor of this view – primitivism about relative fundamentality – is in worse shape than Bennett's evaluation would indicate. Deflationism looks to be the best view.
The aim of this work is to apply information theoretic ideas to the notion of fundamentality. I will argue that if one adopts pancomputationalism as a metaphysics for the universe, then there are higher-level structures which are just as fundamental for computation as anything from microphysics.
Regarding the exhaustive discussions of the fundamentality of existence versus the fundamentality of quiddity, it is a necessary preliminary to examine and analyze the first documented statement of the fundamentality of existence. Following this, we must inquire how the concept is obtained on the basis of which such a judgment could be formed. Then we must illuminate the meaning of propositions that state only that an object is or exists (ontological propositions). Finally, by explaining the meaning of (...) the words “quiddity” and “existence” and comparing them, indications are found of confusion between epistemological and ontological issues. (shrink)
It would not be an overstatement to say that Mulla Sadra’s metaphysical system—commonly known as transcendent philosophy or transcendent wisdom (hikmat muta‘aliyyah)—is founded on the fundamentality of existence and the subjectivity of quiddity or whatness. I will begin this essay by drawing a rather simple picture of this principle under the title “A Common Error.” Then I will proceed by explaining its background and the reasoning supporting it, while offering a more detailed elucidation of the problem. The essay will (...) end by examining two recent interpretations that have gone to extremes in describing quiddity’s subjective nature. (shrink)
Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity (QG), where novel empirical data is lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is UV completion: the idea that a theory should (formally) hold up to all possible high energies. We argue---/contra/ standard scientific practice---that UV-completion is poorly-motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...) the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. (shrink)
Many philosophical theories make comparisons between objects, events, states of affairs, worlds, or systems, and many such theories deliver plausible verdicts only if some of the elements they compare are ranked as ‘best.’ When the relevant ordering does not have such ‘best’ or ‘tied for best’ elements the theory wrongly falls silent or gives badly counterintuitive results. This paper develops ordering supervaluationism---a very general technique that allows any such theory to handle these problematic cases. Just as ordinary supervaluation helps us (...) save and generalize ‘uniqueness assuming’ theories, ordering supervaluationism helps us save and generalize ‘limit assuming’ theories. With so many otherwise attractive limit assuming theories, this is a sensible, methodologically conservative approach. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue for a new way of characterizing ontological emergence. I appeal to recent discussions in meta-ontology regarding fundamentality and dependence, and show how emergence can be simply and straightforwardly characterized using these notions. I then argue that many of the standard problems for emergence do not apply to this account: given a clearly specified meta-ontological background, emergence becomes much easier to explicate. If my arguments are successful, they show both a helpful way of thinking about (...) emergence and the potential utility of discussions in meta-ontology when applied to first-order metaphysics. (shrink)
Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity, where novel empirical data are lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is ultraviolet completion: the idea that a theory should hold up to all possible high energies. We argue— contra standard scientific practice—that UV-completion is poorly motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...) the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV-completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. 1Introduction 1.1Principles in theory development and evaluation 2Primer on UV-Completion, Renormalizability, and All That 2.1Renormalizability and UV-completion 2.2Other forms of UV-completion 3Why Should QG Be UV-Complete? 3.1UV-completion and fundamentality 3.2UV-completion and minimal length 4UV-Completion in Different Approaches to QG 4.1String theory 4.2Asymptotic safety 4.3Causal dynamical triangulation 4.4Higher derivative approaches 4.5Supergravity 4.6Causal set theory 4.7Canonical QG 4.8Loop quantum gravity 4.9Approaches based on alternative gravitational theories 4.10Emergent gravity approaches 5UV-Completion as a Guiding Principle in QG 6Conclusion. (shrink)
The inapplicability of variations on theory reduction in the context of genetics and their irrelevance to ongoing research has led to an anti-reductionist consensus in philosophy of biology. One response to this situation is to focus on forms of reductive explanation that better correspond to actual scientific reasoning (e.g. part–whole relations). Working from this perspective, we explore three different aspects (intrinsicality, fundamentality, and temporality) that arise from distinct facets of reductive explanation: composition and causation. Concentrating on these aspects generates (...) new forms of reductive explanation and conditions for their success or failure in biology and other sciences. This analysis is illustrated using the case of protein folding in molecular biology, which demonstrates its applicability and relevance, as well as illuminating the complexity of reductive reasoning in a specific biological context. (shrink)
What justifies the allocation of funding to research in physics when many would argue research in the life and social sciences may have more immediate impact in transforming our world for the better? Many of the justifications for such spending depend on the claim that physics enjoys a kind of special status vis-a-vis the other sciences, that physics or at least some branches of physics exhibit a form of fundamentality. The goal of this paper is to articulate a conception (...) of fundamentality that can support such justifications. I argue that traditional conceptions of fundamentality in terms of dynamical or ontic completeness rest on mistaken assumptions about the nature and scope of physical explanations. (shrink)
I apply the notion of truthmaking to the topic of fundamentality by articulating a truthmaker theory of fundamentality according to which some truths are truth-grounded in certain entities while the ones that don't stand in a metaphysical-semantic relation to the truths that do. I motivate this view by critically discussing two problems with Ross Cameron's truthmaker theory of fundamentality. I then defend this view against Theodore Sider's objection that the truthmaking approach to fundamentality violates the purity (...) constraint. Truthmaker theorists can have a trouble-free theory of fundamentality. (shrink)
This paper aims to open up discussion on the relationship between fundamentality and naturalism, and in particular on the question of whether fundamentality may be denied on naturalistic grounds. A historico-inductive argument for an anti-fundamentalist conclusion, prominent within contemporary metaphysical literature, is examined; finding it wanting, an alternative ‘internal’ strategy is proposed. By means of an example from the history of modern physics - namely S-matrix theory - it is demonstrated that this strategy can generate similar anti-fundamentalist conclusions (...) on more defensible naturalistic grounds, and that fundamentality questions can be empirical questions. Some implications and limitations of the proposed approach are discussed. (shrink)
I introduce a proof system for the logic of relative fundamentality, as well as a natural semantics with respect to which the system is both sound and complete. I then “modalise” the logic, and finally I discuss the properties of grounding given a suggested account of this notion in terms of necessity and relative fundamentality.
The view that it is symmetries, not particles, that are fundamental to nature is frequently expressed by physicists. But comparatively little has been written either on what this claim means or whether it should be regarded as true. After placing the claim into a general fundamentality framework, I consider whether the priority of symmetries over particles can be defended. The conclusions drawn are largely negative.
When doing metaphysics, it is frequently convenient and sometimes essential to rely upon various notions of fundamentality when articulating the problems, positions, and arguments at issue. But what it is, exactly, the relevant notions are supposed to track remains obscure. The goal of this dissertation is to develop and defend a theory about the metaphysics of fundamentality; by doing so, I clarify and vindicate the roles that notions of fundamentality play in metaphysics. At the theory’s core are (...) two notions particularly prevalent in metaphysical inquiry: something’s being ‘derived’ from or holding ‘wholly in virtue of’ something else (the notion of grounding), and something’s being ‘reducible’ to or ‘non-circularly definable’ in terms of something else (the notion of reductive analysis). -/- I begin by arguing that the notion of grounding ought to serve as a foundation for understanding the metaphysics of fundamentality more generally (“Grounding the Metaphysics of Fundamentality”). I then propose a novel account of reductive analysis that retains the traditional insight that a reductive analysis purports to describe the constituents of a property or fact and depict how they are structured together (“On What Consists in What”). I then argue that even though the two notions are distinct, facts about grounding can be understood wholly and without circularity in terms of a certain pattern of facts about reductive analysis (“Getting Grounded”). I conclude the dissertation by challenging a widespread assumption in both the literature on the metaphysics of fundamentality and in first-order disputes about what grounds what, according to which a fact is necessitated by the facts that ground it (“Against Grounding Necessitarianism”). (shrink)
1. Categories and the Scientific Turn of Metaphysics: The Notion of World-Fundamentality What are the fundamental inhabitants of the world? This question, as old as it is new, is about the fundamental structure of our world. Is our world a world of Aristotle's ordinary substances, Locke's physical substances, Husserl's wholes, Wittgenstein's facts, Sellars's processes, or Quine's sets? In order to distinguish the sort of metaphysical fundamentality at stake in this discussion from other possible types of fundamentality, I (...) shall call it from now on "world-fundamentality." In this article I want to make a proposal in the context of this metaphysical dispute. The proposal is the addition of a new criterion of world-fundamentality to the existing catalog of independence and simplicity, among some other prominent classical examples. I call this criterion "the materialist criterion of world-fundamentality" because it states that metaphysicians should not decide the question of whether our world is a world of facts rather than a world of sets or other categories without considering the explanatory power of such categories to account for the relation between "the manifest image" and "the scientific image," to use the words of Wilfrid Sellars. (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)
This article aims to show that fundamentality is construed differently in the two most prominent strategies of analysis we find in physical science and engineering today: (1) atomistic, reductive analysis and (2) Systems analysis. Correspondingly, atomism is the conception according to which the simplest (smallest) indivisible entity of a certain kind is most fundamental; while systemism , as will be articulated here, is the conception according to which the bonds that structure wholes are most fundamental, and scale and/or constituting (...) entities are of no significance whatsoever for fundamentality. Accordingly, atomists maintain that the basic entities —the atoms —are fundamental, and together with the "external" interactions among them, are sufficient for illuminating all the features and behaviors of the wholes they constitute; whereas systemists proclaim that it is instead structural qualities of systems, that flow from internal relations among their constituents and translate directly into behaviors, that are fundamental, and by themselves largely (if not entirely) sufficient for illuminating the features and behaviors of the wholes thereby structured. Systemism, as will be argued, is consistent with the nonexistence of a fundamental "level" of nondecomposable entities, just as it is consistent with the existence of such a level. Still, systemism is a conception of the fundamental in quite different, but still ontological terms. Systemism can serve the special sciences—the social sciences especially—better than the conception of fundamentality in terms of atoms. Systemism is, in fact, a conception of fundamentality that has rather different uses—and importantly, different resonances. This conception of fundamentality makes contact with questions pertaining to natural kinds and their situation in the metaphysics of the special sciences—their situation within an order of autonomous sciences. The controversy over fundamentality is evident in the social sciences too, albeit somewhat imperfectly, in the terms of debate between methodological individualists and functionalists/holists . This article will thus clarify the difference between systemism and holism. (shrink)
Consider the idea that some entities are more fundamental than others, some entities ‘ground’ other, less fundamental, entities. What is it for something to be more fundamental than another, or for something to ‘ground’ something else? This paper urges the rejection of conceptions of grounding and fundamentality according to which reality has a hierarchical structure in which higher-level entities are taken to be distinct from but metaphysically dependent on more fundamental lower-level entities. Truthmaking is offered as an apt replacement (...) for at least some of the many applications of grounding. (shrink)
Psychophysics measures the attributes of perceptual experience. The question of whether some of these attributes should be interpreted as more fundamental, or “real,” than others has been answered differently throughout its history. The operationism of Stevens and Boring answers “no,” reacting to the perceived vacuity of earlier debates about fundamentality. The subsequent rise of multidimensional scaling (MDS) implicitly answers “yes” in its insistence that psychophysical data be represented in spaces of low dimensionality. I argue the return of fundamentality (...) follows from a trend toward increasing epistemic humility. Operationism exhibited a kind of hubris in the constitutive role it assigned to the experimenter’s presuppositions that is abandoned by the algorithmic methods of MDS. This broad epistemic trend is illustrated by following the trajectory of research on a particular candidate attribute: tonal volume. (shrink)
Sider’s Writing the Book of the World gives an account of fundamentality in terms of his central ideological notion ‘structure’. Here I first argue against Sider’s claim that to be fundamental to a degree is to be structural to a degree. I argue there’s a pair of properties, P1 and P2, such that P1 is the more fundamental, but Sider is committed to counting P2 as the more structural. I then argue that if relative structure and relative fundamentality (...) can come apart in this way, then Sider is likely also wrong to identify being absolutely structural with being absolutely fundamental. (shrink)
In a recent paper Barnes proposes to characterize ontological emergence by identifying the emergent entities with those entities which are both fundamental and dependent. Barnes offers characterizations of the notions of fundamentality and dependence, but is cautious about committing to the specifics of these notions. This paper argues that Barnes’s characterization of emergence is problematic in several ways. Firstly, emergence is a relation, and merely delimiting relata of this relation tells us little about it. Secondly, the group of entities (...) delimited as dependent and fundamental do not appear to be the group of emergent entities. Rather, some entities appear to be dependent and fundamental and not emergent, whilst other entities appear to be emergent and not dependent and fundamental. The moral drawn is that in order to provide a characterization of emergence one must go beyond what Barnes says explicitly. It is also shown that a potentially fruitful way of doing this would be to further specify the notion of dependence at issue revealing it to be asymmetric and perhaps merely nomological. (shrink)
Some philosophers of science have suggested that contemporary science should be the source of inspiration to the new analytic metaphysics (A. Chakra vartty, C. Callender, S. French, J. Ladyman, T. Maudlin, etc.). This paper explores the prospect of a string metaphysics: a research program in analytic metaphysics based on string theory. Different forms of fundamentalism and pluralism are discussed in this context. The paper focus on string metaphysics with S-dualities (a relation between models of string theory at different coupling regimes) (...) and argues that fundamentality and compositionality have to be reconceptualized. String metaphysics with dualities is better couched in terms of metaphysical pluralism. Grounding, as well as a sketch of a string modality, are briefly discussed. The paper concludes with a suggestion for future work: the metaphysician may find a productive ground for research in discussing other dualities (especially the T-dualities, or the AdS/CFT duality), the emergence of spacetime, the concept of time in string theory, the multiverse etc. (shrink)
We argue that dualities offer new possibilities for relating fundamentality, levels, and emergence. Namely, dualities often relate two theories whose hierarchies of levels are inverted relative to each other, and so allow for new fundamentality relations, as well as for epistemic emergence. We find that the direction of emergence typically found in these cases is opposite to the direction of emergence followed in the standard accounts. Namely, the standard emergence direction is that of decreasing fundamentality: there is (...) emergence of less fundamental, high-level entities, out of more fundamental, low-level entities. But in cases of duality, a more fundamental entity can emerge out of a less fundamental one. This possibility can be traced back to the existence of different classical limits in quantum field theories and string theories. (shrink)
We examine arguments for distinguishing between ontological and epistemological concepts of fundamentality, focusing in particular on the role that scale plays in these concepts. Using the fractional quantum Hall effect as a case study, we show that we can draw a distinction between ontologically fundamental and non-fundamental theories without insisting that it is only the fundamental theories that get the ontology right: there are cases where non-fundamental theories involve distinct ontologies that better characterize real systems than fundamental ones do. (...) In order to reconcile these distinct ontologies between fundamental and non-fundamental theories, we suggest that ontology must be understood as scale-dependent. (shrink)
I argue for a conception of essence that does not rely on distinctions of metaphysical fundamentality.Defiendo una concepción de la esencia que no depende de distinciones de fundamentalidad metafísica.