About this topic
Summary Consider the following three claims made by Plato, Russell, and Kripke, respectively: an act is lovable by the gods in virtue of its being pious, complexes exist because simples exist, and the fact that our use of the term ‘Aristotle’ is causally connected in the right kind of way to how it was originally used explains why ‘Aristotle’ refers to Aristotle when we use the term. Some suggest that these and related claims should be read as grounding claims – claims about what grounds what. Key issues with respect to grounding include whether grounding is unitary, whether we can analyze the concept of grounding, the logical form of grounding statements, how grounding is related to explanation as well as necessity, and what philosophical work grounding can be put to.  
Key works Recent interest in grounding is due in large part to the following four papers: Fine 2001, Fine 2012, Rosen 2010, and Schaffer 2009
Introductions For introductions to and surveys of recent work on grounding, see Bliss & Trogdon 2021, Clark & Liggins 2012, Correia & Schnieder 2012Raven 2015, and Trogdon 2013.  
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  1. Metaphysical Foundationalism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason.Thomas Oberle - 2022 - Dialogue 61 (3):421-430.
    There is a ubiquitous claim in the grounding literature that metaphysical foundationalism violates the principle of sufficient reason (PSR) in virtue of positing a level of ungrounded facts. I argue that foundationalists can accept the PSR if they are willing to replace funda- mentality as independence with completeness and deny that ground is a strict partial order. The upshot is that the PSR can be compatible with both metaphysical foundation- alism and metaphysical infinitism, and so presupposing this fixed explanatory demand (...)
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  2. La superinternalité de la relation de fondation.Julien Brodeur - 2021 - Ithaque 28:47-59.
    Dans cet article, je défendrai la thèse que la relation de fondation est superinterne. Cet article s’inscrit dans la continuité des discussions philosophiques récentes sur la fondation métaphysique. Pour soutenir cette position, je m’appuierai notamment sur les travaux de Karen Bennett et de Louis deRosset. Pour ce faire, je commencerai par définir le concept de fondation métaphysique, pour par la suite formuler le puzzle de la fondation de la fondation qui en découle. Je stipulerai ensuite que la superinternalité de la (...)
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  3. L’envers de la superinternalité.Pascal-Olivier Dumas-Dubreuil - 2021 - Ithaque 28:61-80.
    Afin d’échapper au dilemme de la fondation, Karen Bennett a proposé une thèse selon laquelle la relation de fondation serait superinterne, c’est-à-dire qu’elle reposerait entièrement sur la nature du relatum de gauche. Si cette approche peut de prime abord sembler particulièrement convaincante en raison de sa simplicité et de son élégance, un examen plus minutieux révèle toutefois d’importantes difficultés. Dans cet article, j’élabore de nombreuses critiques contre la thèse de la superinternalité qui s’avère moins intuitive qu’elle ne le laisse paraître. (...)
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  4. Fondation et explication : la chimie à l'épreuve des lois métaphysiques.Gabriel Veilleux - 2021 - Ithaque 28:81-95.
    Dans son article The Ground between the Gaps, Jonathan Shaffer développe une conception de l'explication métaphysique impliquant les notions de fondation et de loi métaphysique. Je soutiens ici qu'une telle conception se révèle inadéquate pour saisir les explications métaphysiques courantes des sciences empiriques. Ma démarche consiste à appliquer le cadre théorique de Schaffer à certains types d'explication de la chimie. Bien qu'il soit possible de dégager des lois métaphysiques en chimie, une codification de celles-ci se révèle toutefois impossible. Il y (...)
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  5. Metafísica y Moral.Samuele Chilovi - forthcoming - In Ética Filosófica: Concepciones, Problemas, Proyecciones.
  6. The limits of classical mereology: Mixed fusions and the failures of mereological hybridism.Joshua Kelleher - 2020 - Dissertation, The University of Queensland
    In this thesis I argue against unrestricted mereological hybridism, the view that there are absolutely no constraints on wholes having parts from many different logical or ontological categories, an exemplar of which I take to be ‘mixed fusions’. These are composite entities which have parts from at least two different categories – the membered (as in classes) and the non-membered (as in individuals). As a result, mixed fusions can also be understood to represent a variety of cross-category summation such as (...)
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  7. A puzzle about rates of change.David Builes & Trevor Teitel - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (10):3155-3169.
    Most of our best scientific descriptions of the world employ rates of change of some continuous quantity with respect to some other continuous quantity. For instance, in classical physics we arrive at a particle’s velocity by taking the time-derivative of its position, and we arrive at a particle’s acceleration by taking the time-derivative of its velocity. Because rates of change are defined in terms of other continuous quantities, most think that facts about some rate of change obtain in virtue of (...)
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  8. Disjunctive Parts.Mark Jago - forthcoming - In Federico L. G. Faroldi & Frederik Van De Putte (eds.), Outstanding Contributions to Logic: Kit Fine. Springer.
    Fine (2017a) sets out a theory of content based on truthmaker semantics which distinguishes two kinds of consequence between contents. There is entailment, corresponding to the relationship between disjunct and disjunction, and there is containment, corresponding to the relationship between conjunctions and their conjuncts. Fine associates these with two notions of parthood: disjunctive and conjunctive. Conjunctive parthood is a very useful notion, allowing us to analyse partial content and partial truth. In this chapter, I extend the notion of disjunctive parthood (...)
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  9. The puzzles of ground.Adam Lovett - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2541-2564.
    I outline and provide a solution to some paradoxes of ground.
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  10. Metaphysically explanatory unification.David Mark Kovacs - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1659-1683.
    This paper develops and motivates a unification theory of metaphysical explanation, or as I will call it, Metaphysical Unificationism. The theory’s main inspiration is the unification account of scientific explanation, according to which explanatoriness is a holistic feature of theories that derive a large number of explananda from a meager set of explanantia, using a small number of argument patterns. In developing Metaphysical Unificationism, I will point out that it has a number of interesting consequences. The view offers a novel (...)
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  11. The Logic of Leibniz’s Borrowed Reality Argument.Stephen Puryear - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (279):350-370.
    Leibniz argues that there must be a fundamental level of simple substances because composites borrow their reality from their constituents and not all reality can be borrowed. I contend that the underlying logic of this ‘borrowed reality argument’ has been misunderstood, particularly the rationale for the key premise that not all reality can be borrowed. Contrary to what has been suggested, the rationale turns neither on the alleged viciousness of an unending regress of reality borrowers nor on the Principle of (...)
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  12. Identity.Erica Shumener - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. London: Routledge. pp. 413-424.
    I explore proposals for stating identity criteria in terms of ground. I also address considerations for and against taking identity and distinctness facts to be ungrounded.
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  13. Explanation.Martin Glazier - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. London: pp. 121-132.
    I survey the philosophical literature on grounding explanation and its connection to metaphysical ground.
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  14. Infinite Descent.T. Scott Dixon - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 244-58.
    Once one accepts that certain things metaphysically depend upon, or are metaphysically explained by, other things, it is natural to begin to wonder whether these chains of dependence or explanation must come to an end. This essay surveys the work that has been done on this issue—the issue of grounding and infinite descent. I frame the discussion around two questions: (1) What is infinite descent of ground? and (2) Is infinite descent of ground possible? In addressing the second question, I (...)
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  15. Grounding and Omniscience.Dennis Whitcomb - 2012 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 4 (1).
    I’m going to argue that omniscience is impossible and therefore that there is no God. The argument turns on the notion of grounding. After illustrating and clarifying that notion, I’ll start the argument in earnest. The first step will be to lay out five claims, one of which is the claim that there is an omniscient being, and the other four of which are claims about grounding. I’ll prove that these five claims are jointly inconsistent. Then I’ll argue for the (...)
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  16. The Structure of Essentialist Explanations of Necessity.Michael Wallner - 2020 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):4-13.
    Fine, Lowe and Hale accept the view that necessity is to be explained by essences: Necessarily p iff, and because, there is some x whose essence ensures that p. Hale, however, believes that this strategy is not universally applicable; he argues that the necessity of essentialist truths cannot itself be explained by once again appealing to essentialist truths. As a consequence, Hale holds that there are basic necessities that cannot be explained. Thus, Hale style essentialism falls short of what Wilsch (...)
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  17. On What (In General) Grounds What.Kevin Richardson - 2020 - Metaphysics 2 (1):73–87.
    A generic grounding claim is a grounding claim that isn’t about any particular entity or fact. For example, consider the claim: an act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness. One natural idea is that generic grounding claims state mere regularities of ground. So if an act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness, then every possible right act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness. The generic claim generalizes over particular grounding relations. In this essay, I argue that this (...)
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  18. Plural grounding and the principle of sufficient reason.Jonas Werner - 2020 - Analysis 80 (1):90-95.
    In a recent article published in this journal, Kris McDaniel proposes a variant of Peter van Inwagen’s argument against the principle of sufficient reason that makes crucial use of plural grounding. In this response paper I object to McDaniel’s argument. I argue that there is no notion of plural grounding available that is both irreflexive in the sense required for the argument to go through and general enough to formulate the principle of sufficient reason as proposed by McDaniel.
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  19. Structure.Tuomas Tahko - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York: Routledge. pp. 387-395.
    An exploration of ground’s connections to structure (joint-carving, naturalness). The notion of structure is often invoked in connection to ground, because grounding is understood to impose constraints on the ‘structure of reality’. There is another, technical sense of structure, sometimes captured with reference to the notion of ‘joint-carving’. Both of these senses of structure as well as their potential connections are discussed.
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  20. A Solution to Some Grounding Problems for Relationism.Brannon McDaniel - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    Let wF, wC+, and wC– be three distinct worlds, each of which contains only a single point-sized material particle, and in each of which spacetime is: uniformly flat, constantly positively curved, and constantly negatively curved, respectively. By the relationist’s lights, these worlds seem to be qualitatively identical. Nevertheless, for each world, there are propositions concerning possible arrangements of material points that are true in that world, but false in the other two. I argue that, surprisingly, the relationist can ground these (...)
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  21. Ground grounded.Theodore Sider - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):747-767.
    Most facts of grounding involve nonfundamental concepts, and thus must themselves be grounded. But how? The leading approaches—due to Bennett, deRosset, and Dagupta—are subject to objections. The way forward is to deny a presupposition common to the leading approaches, that there must be some simple formula governing how grounding facts are grounded. Everyone agrees that facts about cities might be grounded in some complex way about which we know little; we should say the same about the facts of grounding themselves. (...)
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  22. Investigating Non-philosophers’ Judgements about the Asymmetry of Metaphysical Explanation.Andrew J. Latham & Kristie Miller - manuscript
    It is often supposed that metaphysical explanation is asymmetric: that for all x and y, if x metaphysically explains y, then y does not metaphysically explain x. Even amongst those who hold that metaphysical explanation is not asymmetric, but nonsymmetric, it is assumed that a relatively small number of particular explanations are symmetric: by and large, if x metaphysically explains y, then y does not metaphysically explain x. Both parties agree that as a matter of fact we at least typically (...)
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  23. Reasons Why Not - On the Positive Grounds of Negative Truths.Julio De Rizzo - 2019 - Stuttgart, Deutschland: Metzler Verlag/ Springer.
    Many philosophers have shown sympathy to the thought that reality is fundamentally positive. Julio De Rizzo formulates this idea precisely by means of the notion of grounding, and examines how the resulting thesis fares with respect to three much discussed classes of negative truths, namely that of negative predications, that of negative causal reports, and that of negative existential truths. By shedding light on the issues advocates of the thesis have to deal with, this work shows the positivist account to (...)
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  24. Anchoring versus Grounding: Reply to Schaffer.Brian Epstein - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):768-781.
    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 (...)
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  25. Anchoring as Grounding: On Epstein’s the Ant Trap.Jonathan Schaffer - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):749-767.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Volume 99, Issue 3, Page 749-767, November 2019.
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  26. Optimalism and the Grounds of Existential Truths.Yannic Kappes - 2017 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 124 (2):263-271.
  27. Anything at All - The Deepest and the Shallowest Question.Yannic Kappes & Benjamin Schnieder - 2016 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 123 (2):543-565.
  28. Metaphysical Explanation by Constraint.Michael Bertrand - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (6):1325-1340.
    It is often thought that metaphysical grounding underwrites a distinctive sort of metaphysical explanation. However, it would be a mistake to think that all metaphysical explanations are underwritten by metaphysical grounding. In service of this claim, I offer a novel kind of metaphysical explanation called metaphysical explanation by constraint, examples of which have been neglected in the literature. I argue that metaphysical explanations by constraint are not well understood as grounding explanations.
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  29. Structure by proxy, with an application to grounding.Peter Fritz - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6045-6063.
    An argument going back to Russell shows that the view that propositions are structured is inconsistent in standard type theories. Here, it is shown that such type theories may nevertheless provide entities which can serve as proxies for structured propositions. As an illustration, such proxies are applied to the case of grounding, as standard views of grounding require a degree of propositional structure which suffices for a version of Russell’s argument. While this application solves some of the problems grounding faces, (...)
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  30. The Explanatory Ambitions of Moral Principles.Selim Berker - 2019 - Noûs 53 (4):904-936.
    Moral properties are explained by other properties. And moral principles tell us about moral properties. How are these two ideas related? In particular, is the truth of a given moral principle part of what explains why a given action has a given moral property? I argue “No.” If moral principles are merely concerned with the extension of moral properties across all possible worlds, then they cannot be partial explainers of facts about the instantiation of those properties, since in general necessitation (...)
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  31. On the Grounds of Sums: Reply to Saenz.Yannic Kappes - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):824-829.
    Noël Blas Saenz has recently argued for a counterfactual condition on grounding called Sensitivity, with which he tries to show that there are no mereological sums and that universalism abo...
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  32. Fundamental Truths and the Principle of Sufficient Reason in Bolzano's Theory of Grounding.Stefan Roski & Benjamins Schnieder - 2019 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (4):675-706.
    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 (...)
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  33. Logic (earlier draft titled 'Grounding Logically Complex Facts').Michaela McSweeney - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. Routledge.
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  34. Ground and Explanation in Mathematics.Marc Lange - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    This paper explores whether there is any relation between mathematical proofs that specify the grounds of the theorem being proved and mathematical proofs that explain why the theorem obtains. The paper argues that a mathematical fact’s grounds do not, simply by virtue of grounding it, thereby explain why that fact obtains. It argues that oftentimes, a proof specifying a mathematical fact’s grounds fails to explain why that fact obtains whereas any explanation of the fact does not specify its ground. The (...)
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  35. There is no haecceitic Euthyphro problem.Alexander Skiles - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):477-484.
    Jason Bowers and Meg Wallace have recently argued that those who hold that every individual instantiates a ‘haecceity’ are caught up in a Euthyphro-style dilemma when confronted with familiar cases of fission and fusion. Key to Bowers and Wallace’s dilemma are certain assumptions about the nature of metaphysical explanation and the explanatory commitments of belief in haecceities. However, I argue that the dilemma only arises due to a failure to distinguish between providing a metaphysical explanation of why a fact holds (...)
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  36. Simplicity or Priority?Gregory Fowler - 2015 - In Jonathan L. Kvanvig (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, vol. 6. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter is a work in applied metaphysics. Recent discussions of monism and metaphysical dependence are deployed to develop a view—the doctrine of divine priority (DDP)—that is a viable alternative to the doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS). DDS and the traditional motivation for it are introduced using an analogy involving Jonathan Schaffer’s distinction between two forms of monism. It is argued that DDP is an alternative to DDS by showing that it is consistent with the traditional motivation for the latter (...)
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  37. Grounding and metametaphysics.Alexander Skiles & Kelly Trogdon - 2013 - In Ricki Bliss & J. Miller (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics. New York, NY, USA:
    Discussion of the relevance of grounding to substantiveness, theory-choice, and “location problems” in metaphysics.
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  38. How to properly lose direction.Alex Steinberg - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):4229-4250.
    One of the central puzzles in ontology concerns the relation between apparently innocent sentences and their ontologically loaded counterparts. In recent work, Agustín Rayo has developed the insight that such cases can be usefully described with the help of the ‘just is’ operator: plausibly, for there to be a table just is for there to be some things arranged tablewise; and for the number of dinosaurs to be Zero just is for there to be no dinosaurs. How does the operator (...)
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  39. Indeterminacy and Failure of Grounding.Bahram Assadian & Jonathan Nassim - 2019 - Theoria (4):1.
    Cases of grounding failure present a puzzle for fundamental metaphysics. Typically, solutions are thought to lie either in adding ontology such as haecceities or in re‐describing the cases by means of the ideology of metaphysical indeterminacy. The controversial status of haecceities has led some to favour metaphysical indeterminacy as the way to solve the puzzle. We consider two further treatments of grounding failure each of which, we argue, is a more plausible alternative. As such, the initial dichotomy is a false (...)
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  40. O fundamentach dla metafizycznego fundowania.Karol Lenart - 2019 - Analiza I Egzystencja 45 (2019):5-24.
    In this article I defend a view according to which facts that express metaphysical grounding are grounded in essences of properties involved into a given grounding relationship. To justify this view, first, I present some reasons for a claim that metaphysical grounding is grounded. In the next step I discuss two theories that explain what are the grounds for grounding: a theory that involves a notion of a superinternal relation and a theory that uses a notion of essences of properties. (...)
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  41. Bolzano and Kim on grounding and unification.Stefan Roski - 2019 - Synthese 196 (7):2971-2999.
    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 (...)
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  42. A psychologistic theory of metaphysical explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2019 - Synthese 196 (7):2777-2802.
    Many think that sentences about what metaphysically explains what are true iff there exist grounding relations. This suggests that sceptics about grounding should be error theorists about metaphysical explanation. We think there is a better option: a theory of metaphysical explanation which offers truth conditions for claims about what metaphysically explains what that are not couched in terms of grounding relations, but are instead couched in terms of, inter alia, psychological facts. We do not argue that our account is superior (...)
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  43. Ontology without hierarchy.Kristie Miller, Michael J. Duncan & James Norton - forthcoming - In Javier Cumpa (ed.), The Question of Ontology: The Contemporary Debate. Oxford University Press.
    It has recently become popular to suggest that questions of ontology ought be settled by determining, first, which fundamental things exist, and second, which derivative things depend on, or are grounded by, those fundamental things. This methodology typically leads to a hierarchical view of ontology according to which there are chains of entities, each dependent on the next, all the way down to a fundamental base. In this paper we defend an alternative ontological picture according to which there is no (...)
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  44. In Virtue Of: Determination, Dependence, and Metaphysically Opaque Grounding.Henrik Rydéhn - 2019 - Dissertation, Uppsala University
    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 (...)
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  45. The principle of sufficient reason and necessitarianism.Kris McDaniel - 2019 - Analysis 79 (2):230-236.
    Peter van Inwagen presented a powerful argument against the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which I henceforth abbreviate as ‘PSR’. For decades, the consensus was that this argument successfully refuted PSR. However, now a growing consensus holds that van Inwagen’s argument is fatally flawed, at least when ‘sufficient reason’ is understood in terms of ground, for on this understanding, an ineliminable premiss of van Inwagen’s argument is demonstrably false and cannot be repaired. I will argue that this growing consensus is mistaken (...)
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  46. Ricki Bliss and Graham Priest (eds.): Reality and Its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality. [REVIEW]David Mark Kovacs - 2019 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 17.
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  47. Questions and Answers: Metaphysical Explanation and the Structure of Reality.Naomi Thompson - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (1):98-116.
    This paper develops an account of metaphysical explanation according to which metaphysical explanations are answers to what-makes-it-the-case-that questions. On this view, metaphysical explanations are not to be considered entirely objective, but are subject to epistemic constraints imposed by the context in which a relevant question is asked. The resultant account of metaphysical explanation is developed independently of any particular views about grounding. Toward the end of the paper an application of the view is proposed that takes metaphysical explanations conceived in (...)
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  48. What Work the Fundamental?Ricki Bliss - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (2):359-379.
    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 (...)
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  49. Comments on Making Things Up.Jessica M. Wilson - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (2):497-506.
    These comments are part of a book symposium on Karen Bennett's book, _Making Things Up_.
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  50. Law-Determination as Grounding: A Common Grounding Framework for Jurisprudence.Samuele Chilovi & George Pavlakos - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (1):53-76.
    Law being a derivative feature of reality, it exists in virtue of more fundamental things, upon which it depends. This raises the question of what is the relation of dependence that holds between law and its more basic determinants. The primary aim of this paper is to argue that grounding is that relation. We first make a positive case for this claim, and then we defend it from the potential objection that the relevant relation is rather rational determination (Greenberg 2004, (...)
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