Backing Without Realism

Erkenntnis 87 (3):1295-1315 (2022)
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Facts about explanation are often taken as a guide to facts about metaphysics. Such inferences from explanation to metaphysics typically rely on two elements: explanatory realism, the view that it is a characteristic and necessary aspect of explanation to give information about metaphysical structure, and a backing model of explanation, according to which explanations are backed by supporting relations, such as causation. Combining explanatory realism with a backing model permits conclusions about metaphysics to follow straightforwardly from facts about explanation, and those who endorse backing models of explanation have typically endorsed explanatory realism. In light of recent critiques of explanatory realism, in this paper I explore the prospects for a backing model without explanatory realism. I articulate a non-realist backing model and argue that this model can satisfy most of the motivations for a realist backing model, and that it can also play a central and illuminating role in the practice of metaphysics.



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Elanor Taylor
Johns Hopkins University

Citations of this work

Explanatory Distance.Elanor Taylor - 2023 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 74 (1):221-239.
Backing as Truthmaking.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (5):367–383.
Platonism and Intra-mathematical Explanation.Sam Baron - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.

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References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
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.
Supervenience and mind: selected philosophical essays.Jaegwon Kim - 1993 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.

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