In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics (forthcoming)

The idea that there is some fundamental “level” or “ground” where our description of the world bottoms out has acquired the status of ‘the received view’ in metaphysics ; for a more recent critical defense, see Cameron, 2008). Typically this view is cashed out in terms of some set of ‘basic building blocks’ populating this level, which sits at the bottom of a hierarchy ordered according to some set of compositional principles. These fundamental building blocks are thus taken to have some form of “ultimate” ontological priority with regard to everything else in the hierarchy. In this chapter I shall consider two kinds of threats to this view: the first comes from arguments against the idea of such a level in general, whereas the second concerns the nature of these occupants. As we’ll see, both these threats become entwined in the context of modern physics but I’ll conclude with a suggestion as to how this “received view” may be maintained in this context.
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