It has recently been suggested that a distinctive metaphysical relation— ‘Grounding’—is ultimately at issue in contexts in which some goings-on are said to hold ‘in virtue of’’, be ‘metaphysically dependent on’, or be ‘nothing over and above’ some others. Grounding is supposed to do good work in illuminating metaphysical dependence. I argue that Grounding is also unsuited to do this work. To start, 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—for example, type or token identity, functional realization, classical mereological parthood, the set membership relation, the proper subset relation, the determinable/determinate relation, and so on—which are capable of answering these questions. But, I argue, once the specific relations are on the scene, there is no need for Grounding. (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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
The Problem of Iterated Ground is to explain what grounds truths about ground: if Γ grounds φ, what grounds that Γ grounds φ? This paper develops a novel solution to this problem. The basic idea is to connect ground to explanatory arguments. By developing a rigorous account of explanatory arguments we can equip operators for factive and non-factive ground with natural introduction and elimination rules. A satisfactory account of iterated ground falls directly out of the resulting logic: non- factive (...) class='Hi'>grounding claims, if true, are zero-grounded in the sense of Fine. (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)
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)
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)
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 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.
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)
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)
Contingent negative existentials give rise to a notorious paradox. I formulate a version in terms of metaphysical grounding: nonexistence can't be fundamental, but nothing can ground it. I then argue for a new kind of solution, expanding on work by Kit Fine. The key idea is that negative existentials are contingently zero-grounded – that is to say, they are grounded, but not by anything, and only in the right conditions. If this is correct, it follows that grounding cannot (...) be an internal relation, and that no complete account of reality can be purely fundamental. (shrink)
Eternalists believe that there is no ontological difference between the past, present and future. Thus, a challenge arises: in virtue of what does time have a direction? Some eternalists (including Maudlin (2007), Oaklander (2012) and Tegtmeier (1996; 2009; 2014; 2016)) argue that the direction of time is primitive. A natural response to positing primitive directionality is the suspicion that said posit is too mysterious to do any explanatory work. The aim of this paper is to relieve primitive directionality of some (...) of its mystery by offering a novel way to understand the phenomenon in terms of the recently popularised notion of grounding. (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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
What distinguishes causation from grounding? One suggestion is that causation, but not grounding, occurs over time. Recently, however, counterexamples to this simple temporal criterion have been offered. In this paper, we situate the temporal criterion within a broader framework that focuses on two aspects: locational overlapping in space and time and the presence of intermediaries in space and time. We consider, and reject, the idea that the difference between grounding and causation is that grounding can occur (...) without intermediaries. We go on to use the fact that grounding and causation both involve intermediaries to develop a better temporal criterion for distinguishing causation from grounding. The criterion is this: when a cause and effect are spatially disjoint, there is always a chain of causal intermediaries between the cause and the effect that are extended in time. By contrast, when the grounds and the grounded are spatially disjoint, there is always a chain of grounding intermediaries, but the chain need not be extended in time, it can be purely spatial. The difference between grounding and causation, then, is that causation requires time for chaining in a way that grounding does not. (shrink)
This dissertation investigates grounding, the relation of non-causal determination whereby one fact obtains in virtue of some other fact or facts. Although considerations of grounding have been central throughout Western philosophy, the last 15-20 years have seen a renaissance of systematic work on grounding in analytic philosophy. The aim of the dissertation is to contribute to our understanding of the nature of grounding and its relation to other central phenomena in metaphysics. -/- Chapter 1 of the (...) dissertation provides a brief presentation of grounding and introduces some distinctions of relevance to later chapters. Chapter 2 discusses the question of whether grounding can be reduced. Four reductive accounts – in terms of fundamentality and supervenience, essence, reduction, and metaphysical laws respectively – are considered. All of these accounts are found to be subject to objections and are consequently rejected. -/- Chapter 3 considers the relation between grounding and another important phenomenon in metaphysics, namely ontological dependence. The question of the relation between the two is approached through an investigation of their modal connection (or lack thereof). It is argued that on the common assumption that grounding is a factive relation, ontological dependence can be shown to be neither necessary nor sufficient for grounding. Furthermore, to get any form of modal connection between the two relations, one needs to move to a non-factive conception of grounding or consider generic ontological dependence and accept a potentially controversial principle about the modal behaviour of grounding. Even then, the modal connection between grounding and ontological dependence is weak and subject to qualifications. -/- Chapter 4 develops and defends the novel notion of metaphysically opaque grounding. It is commonly assumed that grounding is an especially intimate and powerful connection and enables a form of explanation that is particularly strict and illuminating. An arguably related idea is that grounding is necessarily connected with the core features of things – their essences or natures. Metaphysically opaque grounding constitutes a form of grounding that falsifies both of these ideas. Chapter 4 makes the notion of metaphysically opaque grounding precise, motivates the idea that there are genuine cases of such grounding, explores its consequences for the theory of grounding, and defends the notion from potential objections, concluding that there are currently no strong reasons to rule out opaque grounding. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to provide an accurate grounding-based formulation of positivism in the philosophy of law. I start off by discussing some simple formulations, based on the ideas that social facts are always either full or partial grounds of legal facts. I then raise a number of objections against these definitions: the full grounding proposal rules out possibilities that are compatible with positivism; the partial grounding proposal fails, on its own, to vindicate the distinctive (...) role that is played by social facts within positivist accounts of law. Then, I present a more adequate and insightful formulation capable of solving their problems, which crucially relies on a robust notion of a social enabler. Finally, I model inclusive and exclusive positivism on the resulting template, and set out the advantages of the ground-enablers proposal. (shrink)
According to the Ontological Innocence Thesis (OIT), grounded entities are ontologically innocent relative to their full grounds. I argue that OIT entails a contradiction, and therefore must be discarded. My argument turns on the notion of “groundmates,” two or more numerically distinct entities that share at least one of their full grounds. I argue that, if OIT is true, then it is both the case that there are groundmates and that there are no groundmates. Therefore, so I conclude, OIT is (...) false. Moreover, once we have seen why OIT is false, only three heterodox views about reality's structure remain. So this paper’s second conclusion is that, even after we have discarded OIT, we are in for an additional surprise. (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)
Are grounding claims fully general in character? If an object a is F in virtue of being G, does it follow that anything that’s G is F for that reason? According to the thesis of Weak Formality, the answer here is ‘yes’. In this paper, however, I argue that there is philosophical utility in rejecting this thesis. More exactly, I argue that two currently unresolved problems in contemporary metaphysics can be dealt with if we hold that there can be (...) cases of ‘kind-dependent grounding’, the key thought being that once we allow for such cases, we must also accept that Weak Formality is false. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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)
The Question of Iterated Grounding (QIG) asks what grounds the grounding facts. Although the question received a lot of attention in the past few years, it is usually discussed independently of another important issue: the connection between metaphysical explanation and the relation or relations that supposedly “back” it. I will show that once we get clear on the distinction between metaphysical explanation and the relation(s) backing it, we can distinguish no fewer than four questions lumped under QIG. I (...) will also argue that given some plausible assumptions about what it would take for a relation to back metaphysical explanation, many salient views about grounding allow us to give “easy” answers to these questions—easy in the sense that we can straightforwardly derive them from the respective conception of grounding without getting into the sorts of complexities that typically inform answers to QIG. The paper's main upshot is that we cannot expect to make much progress on QIG without first addressing the difficult issue of how exactly grounding is related to metaphysical explanation. (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)
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)
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)
In his insightful and challenging paper, Jonathan Schaffer argues against a distinction I make in The Ant Trap (Epstein 2015) and related articles. I argue that in addition to the widely discussed “grounding” relation, there is a different kind of metaphysical determination I name “anchoring.” Grounding and anchoring are distinct, and both need to be a part of full explanations of how facts are metaphysically determined. Schaffer argues instead that anchoring is a species of grounding. The crux (...) of his argument comes in the last sections of his paper, in his discussion of “exportation,” the relations strategy, and the definitions strategy. I am inclined to agree that Schaffer’s interesting strategies offer the best choices for the philosopher who wants to insist that anchoring is a species of grounding. But both, I will argue, are fatally flawed. I do not take the separation of anchors from grounds lightly, but find the evidence in its favor overwhelming. And once the distinction is made, I find anchoring to be a powerful practical tool in metaphysics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Volume 99, Issue 3, Page 768-781, November 2019. (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)
Let NNG be the claim that necessitation is necessary for grounding, and let NSG be the claim that necessitation is sufficient for grounding. The consensus view is that grounding cannot be reduced to necessitation, and this is due to the (approximately) universally-accepted claim that NSG is false. Among deniers of NSG: grounding contingentists think NNG is also false, but they are in the minority compared to grounding necessitarians who uphold NNG. For one who would defend (...) the claim that grounding is reducible to necessitation, the task is formidable: she must defend NSG and NNG. I consider two prominent objections against NSG, and two more against NNG before developing a reductive account of grounding as minimal necessitation that avoids not only all four of the previously mentioned objections, but also an additional objection that targets minimal necessitation accounts in particular. If my arguments are compelling, then, insofar as we thereby have a strong prima facie case for thinking that grounding can be reduced to (minimal) necessitation, we have a strong prima facie case for thinking the consensus view is mistaken. (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)