Given the centrality of arguments from vicious infinite regress to our philosophical reasoning, it is little wonder that they should also appear on the catalogue of arguments offered in defense of theses that pertain to the fundamental structure of reality. In particular, the metaphysical foundationalist will argue that, on pain of vicious infinite regress, there must be something fundamental. But why think that infinite regresses of grounds are vicious? I explore existing proposed accounts of viciousness cast in terms of contradictions, (...) dependence, failed reductive theories and parsimony. I argue that no one of these accounts adequately captures the conditions under which an infinite regress—any infinite regress—is vicious as opposed to benign. In their place, I suggest an account of viciousness in terms of explanatory failure. If this account is correct, infinite grounding regresses are not necessarily vicious; and we must be much more careful employing such arguments to the conclusion that there has to be something fundamental. (shrink)
Fifteen leading philosophers explore metaphysical foundationalism, the idea that reality has an over-arching hierarchical structure ordered by relations of metaphysical dependence, where chains of entities ordered by those dependence relations terminate in something fundamental.
Metaphysicians of a certain stripe are almost unanimously of the view that grounding is necessarily irreflexive, asymmetric, transitive, and well-founded. They deny the possibility of circles of ground and, therewith, the possibility of species of metaphysical coherentism. But what's so bad about circles of ground? One problem for coherentism might be that it ushers in anti-foundationalism: grounding loops give rise to infinite regresses. And this is bad because infinite grounding regresses are vicious. This article argues that circles of ground do (...) not necessarily give rise to infinite regresses, and where they do, those regresses are not necessarily vicious. (shrink)
Although it is very often taken for granted that there is something fundamental, the literature appears to have developed with little to no careful consideration of what exactly it is that the fundamentalia are supposed to do. If we are to have a good reason to believe that there is something fundamental, we need not only to know what exactly it is that the fundamentalia are invoked for, but why it is that nothing else is available for the task to (...) hand. A good argument in defense of fundamentality, then, will contain an assumption that stipulates an explanatory target; along with a second, crucial, assumption that tells us that no dependent entity is available to do the work that needs to be done. In this paper, I explore both of these assumptions. (shrink)
It is widely recognized by proponents of the notion that grounding can be, indeed is, overdetermined. Moreover, it seems safe to suppose that something of a consensus has emerged: grounding is overdetermined and there is nothing about it that we ought to find concerning. Not only is the overdetermination apparently not problematic, metaphysically speaking, but that grounding is overdetermined is not problematic, conceptually speaking, either. From a small sampling of alleged cases, however, no such conclusions can responsibly be drawn. And (...) without an account of when a fact is technically overdetermined, we are unable to reasonably answer questions about the acceptability of that overdetermination either. In this paper, I attempt to understand when a fact is technically metaphysically overdetermined. I argue that such an exploration reveals that nothing as regards the overdetermination of grounding is straightforward, and that the phenomenon is deserving of much more philosophical attention. (shrink)
Philosophical questions regarding the nature and methodology of philosophical inquiry have garnered much attention in recent years. Perhaps nowhere are these discussions more developed than in relation to the field of metaphysics. The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics is an outstanding reference source to this growing subject. It comprises thirty-eight chapters written by leading international contributors, and is arranged around five themes: • The history of metametaphysics • Neo-Quineanism (and its objectors) • Alternative conceptions of metaphysics • The epistemology of metaphysics (...) • Science and metaphysics. Essential reading for students and researchers in metaphysics, philosophical methodology, and ontology, The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics will also be of interest to those in closely related subjects such as philosophy of language, logic, and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Commitment to the idea that there is something real can be found in a variety of different places, perhaps the most obvious expressions of which are in the ideas that there is a real world outside our heads, an external world, and that we ourselves are surely real. In addition to these somewhat quotidian commitments, philosophers also find homes for the real in more abstract, theoretical locations--chief amongst them being that the world contains something fundamental, the reals, and that there (...) will be an ultimate theory of everything. In The Non-Existence of The Real World, Jan Westerhoff develops a variety of different arguments aimed at showing that any attempt at finding a safe place for the real is hopeless.... (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.
ABSTRACT 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.