An explanatory idealist theory of grounding

Noûs 56 (3):530-553 (2022)
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Abstract

How is grounding related to metaphysical explanation? The standard view is that the former somehow “backs”, “undergirds” or “underlies” the latter. This view fits into a general picture of explanation, according to which explanations in general hold in virtue of a certain elite group of “explanatory relations” or “determinative relations” that back them. This paper turns the standard view on its head: grounding doesn't “back” metaphysical explanation but is in an important sense downstream from it. I call this view “grounding idealism”, since it structurally resembles an analogous view about causation that is known as “causal idealism” and has been endorsed by philosophers like Michael Scriven and Philip Kitcher. I formulate a specific version of grounding idealism, Metaphysical Explanation‐First Idealism (MEFI), according to which the semantic value of ‘grounding’ is an abundant, gerrymandered relation settled by the metaphysical explanation facts. Then I offer some theoretical considerations that support MEFI over rival accounts of the relation between grounding and metaphysical explanation. Finally, I address the question of what role is left for grounding to play, if not that of “backing” metaphysical explanations.

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David Mark Kovacs
Tel Aviv University

Citations of this work

Grounding Functionalism and Explanatory Unificationism.Alexios Stamatiadis-bréhier - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (4):799-819.
The Explanatory Demands of Grounding in Law.Samuele Chilovi & George Pavlakos - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (4):900-933.

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References found in this work

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No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
Grounding in the image of causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.

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