It has recently been suggested that a distinctive metaphysical relation---"Grounding"---is ultimately at issue in contexts where some goings-on are said to hold "in virtue of"", be (constitutively) "metaphysically dependent on", or be "nothing over and above" some others (see Fine 2001, Schaffer 2009, and Rosen 2010). Grounding is supposed to do good work (better than merely modal notions, in particular) in illuminating metaphysical dependence. I argue that Grounding is also unsuited to do this work. To start, (...) class='Hi'>Grounding alone cannot do this work, for bare claims of Grounding leave open such basic questions as whether Grounded goings-on exist, whether they are reducible to or rather distinct from Grounding goings-on, whether they are efficacious, and so on; but in the absence of answers to such basic questions, we are not in position to assess the associated claim or theses concerning metaphysical dependence. There is no avoiding appeal to the specific metaphysical relations typically at issue in investigations into dependence---e.g., type or token identity, functional realization, classical mereological parthood, the set membership relation, the proper subset relation, the determinable/determinate relation, and so on---that are typically at issue in contexts where metaphysical dependence is at issue, and which are capable of answering these questions. But, I argue, once the specific relations are on the scene, there is no need for Grounding, either as tracking a coarse-grained but still useful level of investigation, as needed for the specific relations to fix the direction of priority, or as unifying the specific relations. (shrink)
Grounding is often glossed as metaphysical causation, yet no current theory of grounding looks remotely like a plausible treatment of causation. I propose to take the analogy between grounding and causation seriously, by providing an account of grounding in the image of causation, on the template of structural equation models for causation.
The primary goal of this chapter is to set out and clarify some of the central issues and disputes concerning grounding (alternatively, the in virtue of relation, priority, metaphysical explanation, and so on). I begin by introducing a taxonomy of positions that proceeds upon a cluster of related issues including, for example, whether our talk of grounding in philosophical discourse is univocal. Then I consider the logical form of grounding statements as well as the structural principles that (...) govern grounding. Next, I take up the matter of how the notions of grounding, modality, and reduction interact. I close with a brief discussion of the grounds for true grounding claims. (shrink)
After many years of enduring the drought and famine of Quinean ontology and Carnapian meta-ontology, the notion of ground, with its distinctively philosophical flavor, finally promises to give metaphysicians something they can believe in again and around which they can rally: their very own metaphysical explanatory connection which apparently cannot be reduced to, or analyzed in terms of, other familiar idioms such as identity, modality, parthood, supervenience, realization, causation or counterfactual dependence. Often, phenomena such as the following are cited as (...) putative examples of grounding connections: systematic connections between entire realms of facts (mental/physical; moral/natural; etc.); truthmaking (e.g., the relation between the truth of the proposition that snow is white and snow’s being white); logical cases (e.g., the connection between conjunctive facts or disjunctive facts and their constituent facts); the determinate/determinable relation (e.g., the relation between something’s being maroon and its being red). I argue in this paper that classifying all of these phenomena as exhibiting grounding connections does not achieve much in the way of illumination. In fact, by treating a collection of phenomena which is in fact heterogeneous as though it were homogeneous, we have, if anything, taken a dialectical step backward. (shrink)
A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer, but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views face (...) well-known problems. A plausible alternative is that layered structure is to be explicated by appeal to explanations of a certain sort, termed / grounding explanations/. Grounding explanations tell us what obtains in virtue of what. Unfortunately, the use of grounding explanations to articulate the layered conception faces a problem, which I call /the collapse/. The collapse turns on the question of how to ground the facts stated by the explanations themselves. In this paper I make a suggestion about how to ground explanations that avoids the collapse. Briefly, the suggestion is that the fact stated by a grounding explanation is grounded in its /explanans/. (shrink)
Recent interest in the nature of grounding is due in part to the idea that purely modal notions are too coarse‐grained to capture what we have in mind when we say that one thing is grounded in another. Grounding not being purely modal in character, however, is compatible with it having modal consequences. Is grounding a necessary relation? In this article I argue that the answer is ‘yes’ in the sense that propositions corresponding to full grounds modally (...) entail propositions corresponding to what they ground. The argument proceeds upon two substantive principles: the first is that there is a broadly epistemic constraint on grounding, while the second links this constraint with Fine's Aristotelian notion of essence. Many think grounding is necessary in something like the sense specified above, but just why it's necessary is an issue that hasn't been carefully addressed. If my argument is successful, we now know why grounding is necessary. (shrink)
The paper argues that grounding is neither irreflexive, nor asymmetric, nor transitive. In arguing for that conclusion the paper also arguesthat truthmaking is neither irreflexive, nor asymmetric, nor transitive.
How does metaphysical grounding interact with the truth-functions? I argue that the answer varies according to whether one has a worldly conception or a conceptual conception of grounding. I then put forward a logic of worldly grounding and give it an adequate semantic characterisation.
Are identity criteria grounding principles? A prima facie answer to this question is positive. Specifically, two-level identity criteria can be taken as principles related to issues of identity among objects of a given kind compared with objects of a more basic kind. Moreover, they are grounding metaphysical principles of some objects with regard to others. In the first part of the paper we criticise this prima facie natural reading of identity criteria. This result does not mean that identity (...) criteria could not be taken as grounding principles. In the second part, we propose some basic steps towards a conceptual reading of grounding. Such a way of understanding it goes along with an epistemic reading of identity criteria. (shrink)
Recent metaphysics has seen a surge of interest in grounding—a relation of non-causal determination underlying a distinctive kind of explanation common in philosophy. In this article, I investigate the connection between grounding and another phenomenon of great interest to metaphysics: ontological dependence. There are interesting parallels between the two phenomena: for example, both are commonly invoked through the use of “dependence” terminology, and there is a great deal of overlap in the motivations typically appealed to when introducing them. (...) I approach the question of the relationship between grounding and ontological dependence through an investigation of their modal connections (or lack thereof). I argue, firstly, that on the common assumption that grounding is factive, it can be shown that no known variety of rigid ontological dependence is either necessary or sufficient for grounding. I also offer some suggestions in support of the claim that this generalizes to every possible form of rigid ontological dependence. I then broaden the discussion by considering a non-factive conception of grounding, as well as by looking at forms of generic (rather than rigid) ontological dependence. I argue that there is at least one form of rigid ontological dependence that is sufficient for non-factive grounding, and that a form of generic dependence may be necessary (but not sufficient) both for factive and non-factive grounding. However, justifying even these fairly weak modal connections between grounding and ontological dependence turns out to require some quite specific and substantive assumptions about the two phenomena that have only rarely been discussed. (shrink)
A number of philosophers think that grounding is, in some sense, well-founded. This thesis, however, is not always articulated precisely, nor is there a consensus in the literature as to how it should be characterized. In what follows, I consider several principles that one might have in mind when asserting that grounding is well-founded, and I argue that one of these principles, which I call ‘full foundations’, best captures the relevant claim. My argument is by the process of (...) elimination. For each of the inadequate principles, I illustrate its inadequacy by showing either that it excludes cases that should not be ruled out by a well-foundedness axiom for grounding, or that it admits cases that should be ruled out. (shrink)
Concrete particular objects (e.g., living organisms) figure saliently in our everyday experience as well as our in our scientific theorizing about the world. A hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects holds that these entities are, in some sense, compounds of matter (hūlē) and form (morphē or eidos). The Grounding Problem asks why an object and its matter (e.g., a statue and the clay that constitutes it) can apparently differ with respect to certain of their properties (e.g., the clay’s ability (...) to survive being squashed, as compared to the statue’s inability to do so), even though they are otherwise so much alike. In this paper, I argue that a hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects, in conjunction with a non-modal conception of essence of the type encountered for example in the works of Aristotle and Kit Fine, has the resources to yield a solution to the Grounding Problem. (shrink)
Proponents of grounding often describe the notion as "metaphysical causation" involving determination and production relations similar to causation. This paper argues that the similarities between grounding and causation are merely superficial. I show that there are several sorts of causation that have no analogue in grounding; that the type of "bringing into existence" that both involve is extremely different; and that the synchronicity of ground and the diachronicity of causation make them too different to be explanatorily intertwined.
In this paper we provide a psychological explanation for ‘grounding observations’—observations that are thought to provide evidence that there exists a relation of ground. Our explanation does not appeal to the presence of any such relation. Instead, it appeals to certain evolved cognitive mechanisms, along with the traditional modal relations of supervenience, necessitation and entailment. We then consider what, if any, metaphysical conclusions we can draw from the obtaining of such an explanation, and, in particular, if it tells us (...) anything about whether we ought to posit a relation of ground. (shrink)
The statue and the lump of clay that constitutes it fail to share all of their kind and modal properties. Therefore, by Leibniz’s Law, the statue is not the lump. Question: What grounds the kind and modal differences between the statue and the lump? In virtue of what is it that the lump of clay, but not the statue, can survive being smashed? This is the grounding problem. Now a number of solutions to the grounding problem require that (...) we substantially revise our view of reality. In this paper, I provide a solution to this problem that does not require such a revision. I then show how my solution to the grounding problem can solve a related problem and answer a related question. The upshot is that the solution I offer is not only non-revisionary, but also fruitful. (shrink)
Attempts to elucidate grounding are often made by connecting grounding to metaphysical explanation, but the notion of metaphysical explanation is itself opaque, and has received little attention in the literature. We can appeal to theories of explanation in the philosophy of science to give us a characterization of metaphysical explanation, but this reveals a tension between three theses: that grounding relations are objective and mind-independent; that there are pragmatic elements to metaphysical explanation; and that grounding and (...) metaphysical explanation share a close connection. Holding fixed the mind-independence of grounding, I show that neither horn of the resultant dilemma can be blunted. Consequently, we should reject the assumption that grounding relations are mind-independent. (shrink)
I argue that there is an important similarity between causation and grounding. In particular I argue that, just as there is a type of scientific explanation that appeals to causal mechanisms—causal-mechanical explanation—there is a type of metaphysical explanation that appeals to grounding mechanisms—grounding-mechanical explanation. The upshot is that the role that grounding mechanisms play in certain metaphysical explanations mirrors the role that causal mechanisms play in certain scientific explanations. In this light, it becomes clear that (...) class='Hi'>grounding-mechanical explanations make crucial contributions to the evaluation of a variety of important philosophical theses, including priority monism and physicalism. (shrink)
Those who wish to claim that all facts about grounding are themselves grounded (“the meta-grounding thesis”) must defend against the charge that such a claim leads to infinite regress and violates the well-foundedness of ground. In this paper, we defend. First, we explore three distinct but related notions of “well-founded”, which are often conflated, and three corresponding notions of infinite regress. We explore the entailment relations between these notions. We conclude that the meta-grounding thesis need not lead (...) to tension with any of the three notions of “well-founded”. Finally, we explore the details of and motivations for further conditions on ground that one might add to generate a conflict between the meta-grounding thesis and a well-founded constraint. We explore these topics by developing and utilizing a formal framework based on the notion of a grounding structure. (shrink)
It has often been argued that Humean accounts of natural law cannot account for the role played by laws in scientific explanations. Loewer (Philosophical Studies 2012) has offered a new reply to this argument on behalf of Humean accounts—a reply that distinguishes between grounding (which Loewer portrays as underwriting a kind of metaphysical explanation) and scientific explanation. I will argue that Loewer’s reply fails because it cannot accommodate the relation between metaphysical and scientific explanation. This relation also resolves a (...) puzzle about scientific explanation that Hempel and Oppenheim (Philosophy of Science 15:135–75, 1948) encountered. (shrink)
Does the notion of ground, as it has recently been employed by metaphysicians, point to a single unified phenomenon? Jonathan Schaffer holds that the phenomenon of grounding exhibits the unity characteristic of a single genus. In defense of this hypothesis, Schaffer proposes to take seriously the analogy between causation and grounding. More specifically, Schaffer argues that both grounding and causation are best approached through a single formalism, viz., that utilized by structural equation models of causation. In this (...) paper, I present several concerns which suggest that the structural equation model does not transfer as smoothly from the case of causation to the case of grounding as Schaffer would have us believe. If it can in fact be shown that significant differences surface in how the formalism in question applies to the two types of phenomena in question, Schaffer’s attempt at establishing an analogy between grounding and causation has thereby been weakened and, as a result, the application of the Unity Hypothesis to the case of grounding once again stands in need of justification. (shrink)
It is widely thought that grounding is a hyperintensional phenomenon. Unfortunately, the term ‘hyperintensionality’ has been doing double-duty, picking out two distinct phenomena. This paper clears up this conceptual confusion. We call the two resulting notions hyperintensionalityGRND and hyperintensionalityTRAD. While it is clear that grounding is hyperintensionalGRND, the interesting question is whether it is hyperintensionalTRAD. We argue that given well-accepted constraints on the logical form of grounding, to wit, that grounding is irreflexive and asymmetric, grounding (...) is hyperintensionalTRAD only if one endorses a sentential operator view of grounding. We argue that proponents of the sentential operator view will need to distinguish two importantly different kinds of hyperintensionalityTRAD—weak and strong—and we offer them a way to do so. (shrink)
Existential grounding is the thesis that all existential generalizations are grounded in their particular instances. This paper argues that existential grounding is false. This is because it is inconsistent with two plausible claims about existence: the claim that singular existence facts are generalizations and the claim that no object can be involved in a fact that grounds that same object's existence. Not only are these claims intuitively plausible, but there are also strong arguments in favour of each of (...) them. (shrink)
I problematize Grounding-based formulations of physicalism. More specifically, I argue, first, that motivations for adopting a Grounding-based formulation of physicalism are unsound; second, that a Grounding-based formulation lacks illuminating content, and that attempts to imbue Grounding with content by taking it to be a strict partial order are unuseful and problematic ; third, that conceptions of Grounding as constitutively connected to metaphysical explanation conflate metaphysics and epistemology, are ultimately either circular or self-undermining, and controversially assume (...) that physical dependence is incompatible with explanatory gaps; fourth, that in order to appropriately distinguish physicalism from strong emergentism, a Grounding-based formulation must introduce one and likely two primitives in addition to Grounding; and fifth, that understanding physical dependence in terms of Grounding gives rise to ‘spandrel’ questions, including, e.g., “What Grounds Grounding?”, which arise only due to the overly abstract nature of Grounding. (shrink)
Realists about universals face a question about grounding. Are things how they are because they instantiate the universals they do? Or do they instantiate those universals because they are how they are? Take Ebenezer Scrooge. You can say that Scrooge is greedy because he instantiates greediness, or you can say that Scrooge instantiates greediness because he is greedy. I argue that there is reason to prefer the latter to the former. I develop two arguments for the view. I also (...) respond to some concerns one might have about the view defended. I close by showing that analogous views regarding the truth of propositions and the existence of facts are supported by analogs of one of these arguments. (shrink)
Grounding contingentism is the doctrine according to which grounds are not guaranteed to necessitate what they ground. In this paper I will argue that the most plausible version of contingentism is incompatible with the idea that the grounding relation is transitive, unless either ‘priority monism’ or ‘contrastivism’ are assumed.
It is argued that if we take grounding to be univocal, then there is a serious tension between truth-grounding and one commonly assumed structural principle for grounding, namely transitivity. The primary claim of the article is that truth-grounding cannot be transitive. Accordingly, it is either the case that grounding is not transitive or that truth-grounding is not grounding, or both.
The aim of this paper is to bring recent work on metaphysical grounding to bear on the phenomenon of social construction. It is argued that grounding can be used to analyze social construction and that the grounding framework is helpful for articulating various claims and commitments of social constructionists, especially about social identities, e.g., gender and race. The paper also responds to a number of objections that have been leveled against the application of grounding to social (...) construction from Elizabeth Barnes, Mari Mikkola, and Jessica Wilson. (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.
This paper explores what happens if we construe evidentialism as a thesis about the metaphysical grounds of justification. According to grounding evidentialism, facts about what a subject is justified in believing are grounded in facts about that subject’s evidence. At first blush, grounding evidentialism appears to enjoy advantages over a more traditional construal of evidentialism as a piece of conceptual analysis. However, appearances are deceiving. I argue that grounding evidentialists are unable to provide a satisfactory story about (...) what grounds the evidential facts, and that this provides good reason to reject grounding evidentialism. (shrink)
Grounding, understood as a primitive posit operative in contexts where metaphysical dependence is at issue, is not able on its own to do any substantive work in characterizing or illuminating metaphysical dependence---or so I argue in 'No Work for a Theory of Grounding' (Inquiry, 2014). Such illumination rather requires appeal to specific metaphysical relations---type or token identity, functional realization, the determinable-determinate relation, the mereological part-whole relation, and so on---of the sort typically at issue in these contexts. In that (...) case, why posit 'big-G' Grounding in addition to the 'small-g' grounding relations already in the metaphysician's toolkit? The best reasons for doing so stem from the Unity argument, according to which the further posit of Grounding is motivated as an apt unifier of the specific relations, and the Priority argument, according to which Grounding is needed in order to fix the direction of priority of the specific relations. I previously considered versions of these arguments, and argued that they did not succeed; in two papers, however, Jonathan Schaffer aims to develop a better version of the Unity argument, and offers certain objections to my reasons for rejecting the Priority argument. Here I consider these new arguments for Grounding. (shrink)
Pluralists about coincident entities say that distinct entities may be spatially coincident throughout their entire existence. The most pressing issue they face is the grounding problem. They say that coincident entities may differ in their persistence conditions and in the sortals they fall under. But how can they differ in these ways, given that they share all their microphysical properties? What grounds those differences, if not their microphysical properties? Do those differences depend only on the way we conceptualise those (...) objects? Are they primitive facts about reality? Neither option is pleasant for the pluralist, but what else can she say? To respond to the grounding problem, the pluralist should first tell a story about what material objects are. If that story explains how the modal and sortal properties of objects are grounded, in a way that allows for differences between coincident objects, then she has a response to the problem. That is precisely my aim in this paper. (shrink)
This paper surveys some of the grounding literature searching for points of contact between theories of ground and science. I find that there are some places where a would-be naturalistic grounding theorist can draw inspiration. I synthesize a list of recommendations for how science may be put to use in theories of ground. I conclude that the prospects for naturalizing the metaphysics of ground are bright.
Do grounding claims entail corresponding supervenience claims? The question matters, as a positive answer would help grounding theorists address worries that their hyperintensional primitive is obscure, and also increase the argumentative strategies that are available within ground-theoretic frameworks for metaphysical inquiry. Leuenberger (Erkenntnis 79:227–240, 2014a) argues for a negative response, by specifying some candidate principles of entailment and then claiming that each of them is subject to counterexamples. In this paper, I critically assess those principles and the objections (...) he raises against them, and advocate a novel entailment principle that overcomes all the problems suffered by those other principles. The principle I defend places a supervenience-based constraint on grounding claims, and secures a substantive connection between grounding and modality, weaker than necessitation. (shrink)
In relation to semantics, “grounding” has two relevant meanings. “Symbol grounding” is the process of connecting symbols to perception and the world. “Communicative grounding” is the process of interactively adding to common ground in dialog. Strategies for grounding in human communication include, crucially, strategies for resolving troubles caused by various kinds of miscommunication. As it happens, these two processes of grounding are closely related. As a side-effect of grounding an utterance, dialog participants may adjust (...) the meanings they assign to linguistic expressions, in a process of semantic coordination. Meanings of at least some expressions include perceptual aspects which enable DPs to classify entities as falling under the expression or not based on their perception of those entities. We show how perceptual grounding of symbols can be achieved in a process of interactively adding to common ground. This requires that perceptual aspects of meaning can be updated as a result of participating in linguistic interaction, thereby enabling fine-grained semantic coordination of perceptually grounded linguistic meanings. A formal semantics for low-level perceptual aspects of meaning is presented, tying these together with the logical-inferential aspects of meaning traditionally studied in formal semantics. The key idea is to model perceptual meanings as classifiers of perceptual input. This requires a framework where intensions are represented independently of extensions, and structured objects which can be modified as a result of learning. We use Type Theory with Records, a formal semantics framework which starts from the idea that information and meaning are founded on our ability to perceive and classify the world, that is, to perceive objects and situations as being of types. As an example of our approach, we show how a simple classifier of spatial information based on the Perceptron can be cast in TTR. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide a definition of the the notion of complete and immediate formal grounding through the concepts of derivability and complexity. It will be shown that this definition yields a subtle and precise analysis of the concept of grounding in several paradigmatic cases.
A philosophical standard in the debates concerning material constitution is the case of a statue and a lump of clay, Goliath and Lumpl, respectively. According to the story, Lumpl and Goliath are coincident throughout their respective careers. Monists hold that they are identical; pluralists that they are distinct. This paper is concerned with a particular objection to pluralism, the Grounding Problem. The objection is roughly that the pluralist faces a legitimate explanatory demand to explain various differences she alleges between (...) Lumpl and Goliath, but that the pluralist’s theory lacks the resources to give any such explanation. In this paper, I explore the question of whether there really is any problem of this sort. I argue (i) that explanatory demands that are clearly legitimate are easy for the pluralist to meet; (ii) that even in cases of explanatory demands whose legitimacy is questionable the pluralist has some overlooked resources; and (iii) there is some reason for optimism about the pluralist’s prospects for meeting every legitimate explanatory demand. In short, no clearly adequate statement of a Grounding Problem is extant, and there is some reason to believe that the pluralist can overcome any Grounding Problem that we haven’t thought of yet. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the relation between two important metaphysical notions, ‘truthmaking’ and ‘grounding’. I begin by considering various ways in which truthmaking could be explicated in terms of grounding, noting both strengths and weaknesses of these analyses. I go on to articulate a problem for any attempt to analyze truthmaking in terms of a generic and primitive notion of grounding based on differences we find among examples of grounding. Finally, I outline a more complex (...) view of how truthmaking and grounding could relate. On the view explored, truthmaking is a species of grounding differentiated from other species of grounding by the unique form of dependence it involves. (shrink)
This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as ‘This act is wrong because/in virtue of__’. The familiar intuition that normative facts aren't brute or ungrounded but anchored in non- normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non- normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation in normative explanations as the sort of ‘grounding’ relation that receives extensive discussion (...) in recent metaphysics. I argue that this would help only under controversial assumptions about the nature of normative facts, and perhaps not even then. I won't try to resolve the tension, but draw a distinction between two different sorts of normative explanations which helps to identify constraints on a resolution. One distinctive constraint on normative explanations in particular might be that they should be able to play a role in normative justification. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that truth is grounded: True propositions depend for their truth on the world. Some philosophers believe that truth’s grounding has implications for our ontology of time. If truth is grounded, then truth supervenes on being. But if truth supervenes on being, then presentism is false since, on presentism, e.g., that there were dinosaurs fails to supervene on the whole of being plus the instantiation pattern of properties and relations. Call this the grounding argument against presentism. (...) Many presentists claim that the grounding argument fails because, despite appearances, supervenience is compatible with presentism. In this paper, I claim that the grounding argument fails because, despite appearances, truth’s grounding gives the presentist no compelling reason to adopt the sort of supervenience principle at work in the grounding argument. I begin by giving two precisifications of the grounding principle: truthmaking and supervenience. In Sect. 2, I give the grounding argument against presentism. In Sect. 3, I argue that we should distinguish between eternalist and presentist notions of grounding; once this distinction is in hand, the grounding argument is undercut. In Sect. 4, I show how the presentist’s notion of grounding leads to presentist-friendly truthmaking and supervenience principles. In Sect. 5, I address some potential objections. (shrink)
Few these days dispute that the knowledge argument demonstrates an epistemic gap between the physical facts and the facts about experience. It is much more contentious whether that epistemic gap can be used to demonstrate a metaphysical gap of a kind that is inconsistent with physicalism. In this paper I will explore two attempts to block the inference from an epistemic gap to a metaphysical gap – the first from the phenomenal concept strategy, the second from Russellian monism – and (...) suggest how the proponent of the knowledge argument might respond to each of these challenges. In doing so, I will draw on recent discussions of grounding and essence in the metaphysics literature. (shrink)
Ground offers the hope of vindicating and illuminating an classic philosophical idea: the layered conception, according to which reality is structured by relations of dependence, with physical phenomena on the bottom, upon which chemistry, then biology, and psychology reside. However, ground can only make good on this promise if it is appropriately formally behaved. The paradigm of good formal behavior can be found in the currently dominant grounding orthodoxy, which holds that ground is transitive, antisymmetric, irreflexive, and foundational. However, (...) heretics have recently challenged the orthodoxy. In this paper, I examine ground’s ability to vindicate the layered conception upon various relaxations of the orthodox assumptions. I argue that highly unorthodox views of ground can still vindicate the layered conception and that, in some ways, the heretical views enable ground to better serve as a guide to reality’s layering than do orthodox views of ground. (shrink)
This paper argues that the exclusion problem for mental causation can be solved by a variant of non-reductive physicalism that takes the mental not merely to supervene on, but to be grounded in, the physical. A grounding relation between events can be used to establish a principle that links the causal relations of grounded events to those of grounding events. Given this principle, mental events and their physical grounds either do not count as overdetermining physical effects, or they (...) do so in a way that is not objectionable. (shrink)
In a recent article, Fabrice Correia explores the project of reducing the notion of grounding to that of essence. He then goes on to provide several candidate definitions and test each of them against a number of objections. His final take on the situation is, roughly, that two of the definitions can handle all of the considered objections. The aim of this paper is to re-evaluate Correia's conclusions in the light of two sources of insights: Firstly, I will argue (...) that one of the objections treated by Correia has been somewhat underestimated, and that it still constitutes a threat against definitions of grounding in terms of essence. Secondly, there are at least two further objections that should be considered by the advocate of such definitions. As I will show, one of them can be neutralized; but the other one is more serious and suggests a clear dialectical edge to an operationalist definition. (shrink)
Are a statue and the lump of clay that constitutes it one object or two? Many philosophers have answered ‘two’ because the lump seems to have properties, such as the property of being able to survive flattening, that the statue lacks. This answer faces a serious problem : it seems that nothing grounds the difference in properties between colocated objects. The statue and lump are in the same environment and inherit properties from the same composing parts. But it seems that (...) differences in properties should be grounded. For this reason, philosophers including Mark Heller, Dean Zimmerman, Theodore Sider, Trenton Merricks, and Eric Olson have rejected the answer ‘two’. -/- I offer a solution to the grounding problem, in order to revive the traditional account. I argue that extrinsic relations contribute to the supervenience base of many kinds or sorts, and these extrinsic relations ground differences between colocated objects, such as statues and lumps of clay, human beings and lumps of tissue, and planets and masses of matter. The same collection of parts can stand in more than one extrinsic relation, with each relation grounding the composition of a distinct kind of object. In cases in which this happens, the properties of each object differ from the properties of other objects that share the same parts. (shrink)
Dennis Whitcomb argues that there is no God on the grounds that God is supposed to be omniscient, yet nothing could be omniscient due to the nature of grounding. We give a formally identical argument that concludes that one of the present co-authors does not exist. Since he does exist, Whitcomb’s argument is unsound. But why is it unsound? That is a difficult question. We venture two answers. First, one of the grounding principles that the argument relies on (...) is false. Second, the argument equivocates between two kinds of grounding: instance-grounding and quasi-mereological grounding. Happily, the equivocation can be avoided; unhappily, avoidance comes at the price of a false premise. (shrink)
Floridi and Taddeo propose a condition of “zero semantic commitment” for solutions to the grounding problem, and a solution to it. I argue briefly that their condition cannot be fulfilled, not even by their own solution. After a look at Luc Steels' very different competing suggestion, I suggest that we need to re-think what the problem is and what role the ‘goals’ in a system play in formulating the problem. On the basis of a proper understanding of computing, I (...) come to the conclusion that the only sensible ground-ing problem is how we can explain and re-produce the behavioral ability and function of meaning in artificial computational agents. (shrink)
What does it mean to say that mind-body dualism is causally problematic in a way that other mind-body theories, such as the psychophysical type identity theory, are not? After considering and rejecting various proposals, I advance my own, which focuses on what grounds the causal closure of the physical realm. A metametaphysical implication of my proposal is that philosophers working without the notion of grounding in their toolkit are metaphysically impoverished. They cannot do justice to the thought, encountered in (...) every introductory class in the philosophy of mind, that dualism has a special problem accounting for mental causation. (shrink)