Grounding, metaphysical laws, and structure

Analytic Philosophy 62 (4):376-395 (2021)
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According to the deductive-nomological account of ground, a fact A grounds another fact B in case the laws of metaphysics determine the existence of B on the basis of the existence of A. Accounts of grounding of this particular variety have already been developed in the literature. My aim in this paper is to sketch a new version of this account. My preferred account offers two main improvements over existing accounts. First, the present account is able to deal with necessitarian as well as non-necessitarian cases of grounding by acknowledging the existence of two types of metaphysical laws. I will argue that we should assume that metaphysical laws come in the necessitarian as well as in the non-necessitarian varietyclosely paralleling the distinction between strict and non-strict laws in the philosophy of science. The second main improvement of the present account is that this account is able to provide an explanation of why the laws of metaphysics have a direction built into them. I will argue that we should characterize metaphysical laws with the help of Theodore Sider’s (2011) notion of structure, which is a descendent of David Lewis’s (1983) notion of naturalness. According to the account of metaphysical laws developed in this paper, metaphysical laws express in their antecedents either perfectly structural truths or more structural truths than in their consequents. Since on Sider’s account structural features of reality are fundamental features of reality, the account is able to explain as to why the laws of metaphysics take us from the fundamental to the derivative.

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Martin Grajner
Technische Universität Dresden

Citations of this work

Varieties of Grounding Skepticism.David Mark Kovacs - 2023 - The Monist 106 (3):301-316.
Fundamentality and minimalist grounding laws.Joaquim Giannotti - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (9):2993-3017.

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References found in this work

New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
Grounding in the image of causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Against Grounding Necessitarianism.Alexander Skiles - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (4):717-751.
Grounding: Toward a Theory of the I n-Virtue-Of Relation.Paul Audi - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy 109 (12):685-711.

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