We define a notion of difference-making for partial grounds of a fact in rough analogy to existing notions of difference-making for causes of an event. Using orthodox assumptions about ground, we show that it induces a non-trivial division with examples of partial grounds on both sides. We then demonstrate the theoretical fruitfulness of the notion by applying it to the analysis of a certain kind of putative counter-example to the transitivity of ground recently described by Jonathan Schaffer. First, we show (...) that our conceptual apparatus of difference-making enables us to give a much clearer description than Schaffer does of what makes the relevant instances of transitivity appear problematic. Second, we suggest that difference-making is best seen as a mark of good grounding-based explanations rather than a necessary condition on grounding, and argue that this enables us to deal with the counter-example in a satisfactory way. Along the way, we show that Schaffer's own proposal for salvaging a form of transitivity by moving to a contrastive conception of ground is unsuccessful. We conclude by sketching some natural strategies for extending our proposal to a more comprehensive account of grounding-based explanations. (shrink)
In his 2010 paper ‘Grounding and Truth-Functions’, Fabrice Correia has developed the first and so far only proposal for a logic of ground based on a worldly conception of facts. In this paper, we show that the logic allows the derivation of implausible grounding claims. We then generalize these results and draw some conclusions concerning the structural features of ground and its associated notion of relevance, which has so far not received the attention it deserves.
According to Hempel’s influential theory of explanation, explaining why some a is G consists in showing that the truth that a is G follows from a law-like generalization to the effect that all Fs are G together with the initial condition that a is F. While Hempel’s overall account is now widely considered to be deeply flawed, the idea that some generalizations play the explanatory role that the account predicts is still often endorsed by contemporary philosophers of science. This idea, (...) however, conflicts with widely shared views in metaphysics according to which the generalization that all Fs are G is partially explained by the fact that a is G. I discuss two solutions to this conflict that have been proposed recently, argue that they are unsatisfactory, and offer an alternative. (shrink)
Not all truths are on a par. The realm of truths is structured: some propositions are only true because others are. The relation that endows the realm of truths with this structure is often called grounding. Grounding has achieved much attention in 21st century metaphysics, but the topic is arguably as old as philosophy itself. -/- This becomes apparent when investigating the works of the 19th-century philosopher Bernard Bolzano, who developed what is perhaps the first comprehensive theory of grounding, drawing (...) on a rich tradition that goes back to Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. Roski’s book provides, for the first time, a comprehensive study of Bolzano’s theory of grounding in its entirety, paying more attention than previous studies to the interaction between grounding and the consequence-relation of deducibility. -/- . (shrink)
Explanatory realism is the view that explanations work by providing information about relations of productive determination such as causation or grounding. The view has gained considerable popularity in the last decades, especially in the context of metaphysical debates about non-causal explanation. What makes the view particularly attractive is that it fits nicely with the idea that not all explanations are causal whilst avoiding an implausible pluralism about explanation. Another attractive feature of the view is that it allows explanation to be (...) a partially epistemic, context-dependent phenomenon. In spite of its attractiveness, explanatory realism has recently been subject to criticism. In particular, Taylor :197–219, 2018). has presented four types of explanation that the view allegedly cannot account for. This paper defends explanatory realism against Taylor’s challenges. We will show that Taylor’s counterexamples are either explanations that turn out to provide information about entities standing in productive determination relations or that they are not genuine explanations in the first place. (shrink)
reality is a complex affair. It comprises a huge variety of different elements. Importantly, though, reality is not a mere aggregate of its elements but rather a structured whole or system whose building blocks are not all on the same level. Instead, they form hierarchical networks ordered by relations of priority. In such networks, derivative aspects of reality obtain in virtue of their grounds, that is, in virtue of more fundamental aspects of reality that are prior to them.This picture of (...) reality as a structured whole is currently enjoying a renaissance in the works of philosophers such as Kit Fine, Jonathan Schaffer, and many others. But far from being a new picture, it has been widely endorsed throughout the... (shrink)
This paper is devoted to Bolzano’s theory of grounding (Abfolge) in his Wissenschaftslehre. Bolzanian grounding is an explanatory consequence relation that is frequently considered an ancestor of the notion of metaphysical grounding. The paper focuses on two principles that concern grounding in the realm of conceptual sciences and relate to traditionally widespread ideas on explanations: the principles, namely, that grounding orders conceptual truths from simple to more complex ones (Simplicity), and that it comes along with a certain theoretical economy among (...) them (Economy). Being spelled out on the basis of Bolzano’s notion of deducibility (Ableitbarkeit), these principles are revealing for the question to what extent grounding can be considered a formal relation. (shrink)
According to an increasingly popular view among philosophers of science, both causal and non-causal explanations can be accounted for by a single theory: the counterfactual theory of explanation. A kind of non-causal explanation that has gained much attention recently but that this theory seems unable to account for are grounding explanations. Reutlinger :239-256, 2017) has argued that, despite these appearances to the contrary, such explanations are covered by his version of the counterfactual theory. His idea is supported by recent work (...) on grounding by Schaffer and Wilson who claim there to be a tight connection between grounding and counterfactual dependence. The present paper evaluates the prospects of the idea. We show that there is only a weak sense in which grounding explanations convey information about counterfactual dependencies, and that this fact cannot plausibly be taken to reveal a distinctive feature that grounding explanations share with other kinds of explanations. (shrink)
The dissertation provides a reconstruction of Bernard Bolzano's theory of grounding (both in early and late works) against the background of a classical conception of science and scientific explanation.
It is sometimes mentioned that Bernard Bolzano’s work on grounding anticipates many insights of the current debate on metaphysical grounding. The present paper discusses a certain part of Bolzano’s theory of grounding that has thus far not been discussed in the literature. This part does not so much anticipate what are nowadays common assumptions about grounding, but rather goes beyond them. Central to the discussion will be a thesis of Bolzano’s by which he tries to establish a connection between grounding (...) and unification. The paper spells out this thesis in detail and discusses the assumptions on which it rests. Next to this mainly historical aim, the paper also presents reasons why philosophers who are not interested in the historical Bolzano should find the thesis interesting by relating it to a certain view on unification and explanation that has been put forward by Kim. A final part of the paper provides a critical evaluation of the thesis against the background of current accounts of grounding. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to an examination of Bolzano’s notion of necessary existence, which has so far received relatively little attention in the literature. We situate Bolzano’s ideas in their historical context and show how he proposed to correct various flaws of his predecessors’ definitions. Further, we relate Bolzano’s conception to his metaphysical and theological assumptions, arguing that some consequences of his definition which have been deemed counterintuitive by some of his interpreters turn out to be more reasonable given the (...) broadly Leibnizian background of his metaphysics. Finally, we consider some difficulties that arise from Bolzano’s evolving views on freedom, which, at least in his early thought, was intimately linked with contingency. In an appendix, we discuss a recent debate on Bolzano’s notion of necessary truth between Textor and Rusnock that has some bearing on our overall line of interpretation of Bolzano’s notion of necessary existence. (shrink)
In the 18th and 19th centuries two transitions took place in the development of mathematical analysis: a shift from the geometric approach to the formula-centered approach, followed by a shift from the formula-centered approach to the concept-centered approach. We identify, on the basis of Bolzano's Purely Analytic Proof [Bolzano 1817], the ways in which Bolzano's approach can be said to be concept-centered. Moreover, we conclude that Bolzano's attitude towards the geometric approach on the one hand and the formula-centered approach on (...) the other were of a different nature; the former being one of rejection, the latter of non-participation. Bolzano supports his concept-centered methodology by philosophical views, which were partially shared by mathematicians with a formula-centered approach to analysis. (shrink)
Der Artikel diskutiert Bolzanos Theorie der Abfolge (grounding). Im Mittelpunkt steht eine kritische Untersuchung der These Bolzanos, dass sich eine Vielzahl von Grund-Folge-Beziehungen auf die Beziehung der Abfolge zurückführen lassen.