Contingent negative existentials give rise to a notorious paradox. I formulate a version in terms of metaphysical grounding: nonexistence can't be fundamental, but nothing can ground it. I then argue for a new kind of solution, expanding on work by Kit Fine. The key idea is that negative existentials are contingently zero-grounded – that is to say, they are grounded, but not by anything, and only in the right conditions. If this is correct, it follows that grounding cannot (...) be an internal relation, and that no complete account of reality can be purely fundamental. (shrink)
It is argued that if we take grounding to be univocal, then there is a serious tension between truth-grounding and one commonly assumed structural principle for grounding, namely transitivity. The primary claim of the article is that truth-grounding cannot be transitive. Accordingly, it is either the case that grounding is not transitive or that truth-grounding is not grounding, or both.
Some of the most eminent and enduring philosophical questions concern matters of priority: what is prior to what? What 'grounds' what? Is, for instance, matter prior to mind? Recently, a vivid debate has arisen about how such questions have to be understood. Can the relevant notion or notions of priority be spelled out? And how do they relate to other metaphysical notions, such as modality, truth-making or essence? This volume of new essays, by leading figures in contemporary metaphysics, is the (...) first to address and investigate the metaphysical idea that certain facts are grounded in other facts. An introduction introduces and surveys the debate, examining its history as well as its central systematic aspects. The volume will be of wide interest to students and scholars of metaphysics. (shrink)
In this paper we provide a psychological explanation for ‘grounding observations’—observations that are thought to provide evidence that there exists a relation of ground. Our explanation does not appeal to the presence of any such relation. Instead, it appeals to certain evolved cognitive mechanisms, along with the traditional modal relations of supervenience, necessitation and entailment. We then consider what, if any, metaphysical conclusions we can draw from the obtaining of such an explanation, and, in particular, if it tells us (...) anything about whether we ought to posit a relation of ground. (shrink)
There are various ways of characterising Hume’s dictum that ‘you can’t get an ought from an is.’ Contributors to the literature directly addressing this question focus on logical characterisations of autonomy theses. Such theses maintain that certain logical relations do not obtain between ethical and non-ethical sentences, for instance that no non-ethical sentences logically entail an ethical sentence. I argue that this focus on logical autonomy is a mistake. The thesis so important to our metaethicists is not a logical thesis (...) but a metaphysical one. The relevant metaphysical autonomy thesis maintains that ethical facts are not fully grounded just in non-ethical facts. I defend this characterization. I also defend the converse thesis that all facts partly grounded in ethical facts are ethical facts. I then argue that this pair of theses can help with debates about the plausibility of nihilism and the classification of revisionary metaethical theses. (shrink)
The Question of Iterated Grounding (QIG) asks what grounds the grounding facts. Although the question received a lot of attention in the past few years, it is usually discussed independently of another important issue: the connection between metaphysical explanation and the relation or relations that supposedly “back” it. I will show that once we get clear on the distinction between metaphysical explanation and the relation(s) backing it, we can distinguish no fewer than four questions lumped under QIG. I (...) will also argue that given some plausible assumptions about what it would take for a relation to back metaphysical explanation, many salient views about grounding allow us to give “easy” answers to these questions—easy in the sense that we can straightforwardly derive them from the respective conception of grounding without getting into the sorts of complexities that typically inform answers to QIG. The paper's main upshot is that we cannot expect to make much progress on QIG without first addressing the difficult issue of how exactly grounding is related to metaphysical explanation. (shrink)
In recent years, metaphysics has undergone what some describe as a revolution: it has become standard to understand a vast array of questions as questions about grounding, a metaphysical notion of determination. Why should we believe in grounding, though? Supporters of the revolution often gesture at what I call the Argument from Explanatoriness: the notion of grounding is somehow indispensable to a metaphysical type of explanation. I challenge this argument and along the way develop a “reactionary” view, (...) according to which there is no interesting sense in which the notion of grounding is explanatorily indispensable. I begin with a distinction between two conceptions of grounding, a distinction which extant critiques of the revolution have usually failed to take into consideration: grounding qua that which underlies metaphysical explanation and grounding qua metaphysical explanation itself. Accordingly, I distinguish between two versions of the Argument from Explanatoriness: the Unexplained Explanations Version for the first conception of grounding, and the Expressive Power Version for the second. The paper’s conclusion is that no version of the Argument from Explanatoriness is successful. (shrink)
I propose a functionalist theory of grounding: f-grounding. Specifically, I argue that grounding is a second-order phenomenon that is realized by relations that play the non-causal explanatoriness role. I also show that f-grounding can deal with a recent and powerful challenge. The theory of explanatory unificationism has been recently appealed to (Kovacs 2017: sec. 5; 2020: 1; Baron & Norton 2020: 3) to argue that successful non-causal explanations do not require backers in the form of (...) class='Hi'>grounding relations. Against this I argue that a systematization involving f-grounding is superior to its anti-relational counterpart. (shrink)
Grounding is often glossed as metaphysical causation, yet no current theory of grounding looks remotely like a plausible treatment of causation. I propose to take the analogy between grounding and causation seriously, by providing an account of grounding in the image of causation, on the template of structural equation models for causation.
The aim of this study is to address the “GroundingGrounding Problem,” that is, the question as to what, if anything, grounds facts about grounding. I aim to show that, if a seemingly plausible principle of modal recombination between fundamental facts and the principle customarily called “Entailment” are assumed, it is possible to prove not only that grounding facts featuring fundamental, contingent grounds are derivative but also that either they are partially grounded in the grounds they (...) feature or they are “abysses”. (shrink)
Separatists are grounding theorists who hold that grounding relations and metaphysical explanations are distinct, yet intimately connected in the sense that grounding relations back metaphysical explanations, just as causal relations back causal explanations. But Separatists have not elaborated on the nature of the ‘backing’ relation. In this paper, I argue that backing is a form of (partial) grounding. In particular, backing has many of the properties commonly attributed to grounding, and taking backing to be partial (...)grounding allows Separatists to make the most of their position vis‐à‐vis their Unionist opponents. (shrink)
Metaphysical grounding is standardly taken to be irreflexive: nothing grounds itself. Kit Fine has presented some puzzles that appear to contradict this principle. I construct a particularly simple variant of those puzzles that is independent of several of the assumptions required by Fine, instead employing quantification into sentence position. Various possible responses to Fine's puzzles thus turn out to apply only in a restricted range of cases.
This paper offers a modification of Fabrice Correia's and Alexander Skiles' ("Grounding, Essence, and Identity") definition of grounding in terms of generalized identity that extends it to zero-grounding. This definition promises to improve our understanding of zero-grounding by capturing it within the framework of generalized identity and allows an essentialist theory of modality based on Correia's and Skiles' account to resist a recent challenge by Jessica Leech. The latter is achieved by combining the following two ideas: (...) (1) Some necessities are grounded in truths about zero-grounding, and (2) at least some identity truths are zero-grounded. Finally, some advantages of the zero-grounding approach over Correia's and Skiles' recent definition of necessity in terms of generalized identity and logical consequence are argued for. (shrink)
This paper examines the idea of human rights, and how they should be justified. It begins by reviewing Peter Jones?s claim that the purpose of human rights is to allow people from different cultural backgrounds to live together as equals, and suggests that this by itself provides too slender a basis. Instead it proposes that human rights should be grounded on human needs. Three difficulties with this proposal are considered. The first is the problem of whether needs are sufficiently objective (...) for this purpose, to which it responds by drawing a distinction between human needs proper and societal needs. The second is the problem of overshoot: human needs are more expansive than human rights. It responds to this by arguing that where needs conflict, we make trade-offs before specifying the optimum set of human rights. The third is the problem of undershoot: needs cannot be used to ground civil and political rights. Here it suggests that some of these rights can be grounded directly in needs, others can be justified instrumentally, and yet others grounded in the human need for recognition. Finally the paper returns to Jones, and asks which approach to human rights is better able to justify them within both liberal and non-liberal cultures. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently become receptive to the idea that, in addition to scientific or causal explanation, there may be a distinctive kind of metaphysical explanation, in which explanans and explanandum are connected, not through some sort of causal mechanism, but through some constitutive form of determination. I myself have long been sympathetic to this idea of constitutive determination or ‘ontological ground’; and it is the aim of the present paper to help put the idea on a firmer (...) footing - to explain how it is to be understood, how it relates to other ideas, and how it might be of use in philosophy. (shrink)
Carrie Jenkins presents a new account of arithmetical knowledge, which manages to respect three key intuitions: a priorism, mind-independence realism, and empiricism. Jenkins argues that arithmetic can be known through the examination of empirically grounded concepts, non-accidentally accurate representations of the mind-independent world.
There has been much discussion of the indispensability argument for the existence of mathematical objects. In this paper I reconsider the debate by using the notion of grounding, or non-causal dependence. First of all, I investigate what proponents of the indispensability argument should say about the grounding of relations between physical objects and mathematical ones. This reveals some resources which nominalists are entitled to use. Making use of these resources, I present a neglected but promising response to the (...) indispensability argument—a liberalized version of Field’s response—and I discuss its significance. I argue that if it succeeds, it provides a new refutation of the indispensability argument; and that, even if it fails, its failure may bolster some of the fictionalist responses to the indispensability argument already under discussion. In addition, I use grounding to reply to a recent challenge to these responses. (shrink)
On the now dominant Quinean view, metaphysics is about what there is. Metaphysics so conceived is concerned with such questions as whether properties exist, whether meanings exist, and whether numbers exist. I will argue for the revival of a more traditional Aristotelian view, on which metaphysics is about what grounds what. Metaphysics so revived does not bother asking whether properties, meanings, and numbers exist (of course they do!) The question is whether or not they are fundamental.
Can there be grounding without necessitation? Can a fact obtain wholly in virtue of metaphysically more fundamental facts, even though there are possible worlds at which the latter facts obtain but not the former? It is an orthodoxy in recent literature about the nature of grounding, and in first-order philosophical disputes about what grounds what, that the answer is no. I will argue that the correct answer is yes. I present two novel arguments against grounding necessitarianism, and (...) show that grounding contingentism is fully compatible with the various explanatory roles that grounding is widely thought to play. (shrink)
The paper argues that grounding is neither irreflexive, nor asymmetric, nor transitive. In arguing for that conclusion the paper also arguesthat truthmaking is neither irreflexive, nor asymmetric, nor transitive.
Prawitz has recently developed a theory of epistemic grounding that differs in many respects from his earlier semantics of arguments and proofs. An innovative approach to inferences yields a new conception of the intertwinement of the notions of valid inference and proof. We aim at singling out three reasons that may have led Prawitz to the ground-theoretic turn, i.e.: a better order in the explanation of the relation between valid inferences and proofs; a notion of valid inference based on (...) which valid inferences and proofs are recognisable as such; a reconstruction of the deductive activity that makes inferences capable of yielding justification per se. These topics are discussed by Prawitz with reference to a very general and ancient question: why and how correct deduction has the epistemic power to compel us to accept its conclusions, provided its premises are justified? We conclude by remarking that, in spite of some improvements, the ground-theoretic approach shares with the previous one a problem of vacuous validity which, as Prawitz himself points out, blocks in both cases a satisfactory explanation of epistemic compulsion. (shrink)
This essay focuses on a recently prominent notion of ground which is distinctive for how it links metaphysics to explanation. Ground is supposed to serve both as the common factor in diverse in virtue of questions as well as the structuring relation in the project of explaining how some phenomena are “built” from more fundamental phenomena. My aim is to provide an opinionated synopsis of this notion of ground without engaging with others. Ground, so understood, generally resists illumination by appeal (...) to more familiar models of explanation. Nevertheless, its distinctive explanatory and metaphysical aspects guide us on characterizing its explanatory logic and its metaphysical features. Some issues concerning the meta-question of what grounds ground are explored, as well as some recent skeptical challenges to ground. (shrink)
A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer, but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views face (...) well-known problems. A plausible alternative is that layered structure is to be explicated by appeal to explanations of a certain sort, termed / grounding explanations/. Grounding explanations tell us what obtains in virtue of what. Unfortunately, the use of grounding explanations to articulate the layered conception faces a problem, which I call /the collapse/. The collapse turns on the question of how to ground the facts stated by the explanations themselves. In this paper I make a suggestion about how to ground explanations that avoids the collapse. Briefly, the suggestion is that the fact stated by a grounding explanation is grounded in its /explanans/. (shrink)
Specific moral facts seem to be grounded in relevant natural facts, together with relevant moral principles. This picture—according to which moral principles play a role in grounding specific moral facts—is a very natural one, and it may be especially attractive to non-naturalist, robust realists. A recent challenge from Selim Berker threatens this picture, though. Moral principles themselves seem to incorporate grounding claims, and it’s not clear that this can be reconciled with according the principles a grounding role. (...) This chapter responds to Berker’s Challenge, utilizing a grounding pluralism. In particular, it argues that distinguishing between normative and metaphysical grounding is the key to saving the natural picture. It also shows how such a distinction is one that you have a reason to endorse independently of this challenge, as it does important work elsewhere in moral philosophy. (shrink)
This book joins epistemic and socio-political issues, using Wittgenstein and diverse liberatory theories to reorient epistemology as an explicitly political endeavor, with trustworthiness at its heart. Each essay was an attempt to grasp a particular set of problems, and they appear together as a model of passionate philosophical engagement.
How does metaphysical grounding interact with the truth-functions? I argue that the answer varies according to whether one has a worldly conception or a conceptual conception of grounding. I then put forward a logic of worldly grounding and give it an adequate semantic characterisation.
In virtue of what is something a reason for action? That is, what makes a consideration a reason to act? This is a metaphysical or meta-normative question about the grounding of reasons for action. The answer to the grounding question has been traditionally given in ‘pure’, univocal terms. This paper argues that there is good reason to understand the ground of practical normativity as a hybrid of traditional ‘pure’ views. The paper 1) surveys the three leading ‘pure’ answers (...) to the question of a normative ground, 2) examines one or two of the most difficult problems for each, proposing along the way a new objection to one, and 3) argues that a particular hybrid view about normative grounds –‘hybrid voluntarism’ – avoids each of the main problems faced by the three leading ‘pure’ views. (shrink)
Interest surges in a distinctively metaphysical notion of ground. But a Schism has emerged between Orthodoxy’s view of ground as inducing a strict partial order structure on reality and Heresy’s rejection of this view. What’s at stake is the structure of reality (for proponents of ground), or even ground itself (for those who think this Schism casts doubt upon its coherence). I defend Orthodoxy against Heresy.
The Problem of Iterated Ground is to explain what grounds truths about ground: if Γ grounds φ, what grounds that Γ grounds φ? This paper develops a novel solution to this problem. The basic idea is to connect ground to explanatory arguments. By developing a rigorous account of explanatory arguments we can equip operators for factive and non-factive ground with natural introduction and elimination rules. A satisfactory account of iterated ground falls directly out of the resulting logic: non- factive (...) class='Hi'>grounding claims, if true, are zero-grounded in the sense of Fine. (shrink)
Attempts to elucidate grounding are often made by connecting grounding to metaphysical explanation, but the notion of metaphysical explanation is itself opaque, and has received little attention in the literature. We can appeal to theories of explanation in the philosophy of science to give us a characterization of metaphysical explanation, but this reveals a tension between three theses: that grounding relations are objective and mind-independent; that there are pragmatic elements to metaphysical explanation; and that grounding and (...) metaphysical explanation share a close connection. Holding fixed the mind-independence of grounding, I show that neither horn of the resultant dilemma can be blunted. Consequently, we should reject the assumption that grounding relations are mind-independent. (shrink)
Proponents of grounding often describe the notion as "metaphysical causation" involving determination and production relations similar to causation. This paper argues that the similarities between grounding and causation are merely superficial. I show that there are several sorts of causation that have no analogue in grounding; that the type of "bringing into existence" that both involve is extremely different; and that the synchronicity of ground and the diachronicity of causation make them too different to be explanatorily intertwined.
In this article, I seek to assess the extent to which Theism, the claim that there is a God, can provide a true fundamental explanation for the instantiation of the grounding relation that connects the various entities within the layered structure of reality. More precisely, I seek to utilise the explanatory framework of Richard Swinburne within a specific metaphysical context, a ground-theoretic context, which will enable me to develop a true fundamental explanation for the existence of grounding. And (...) thus, given the truth of this type of explanation, we will have a further reason to believe in the existence of God. (shrink)
Do grounding claims entail corresponding supervenience claims? The question matters, as a positive answer would help grounding theorists address worries that their hyperintensional primitive is obscure, and also increase the argumentative strategies that are available within ground-theoretic frameworks for metaphysical inquiry. Leuenberger (Erkenntnis 79:227–240, 2014a) argues for a negative response, by specifying some candidate principles of entailment and then claiming that each of them is subject to counterexamples. In this paper, I critically assess those principles and the objections (...) he raises against them, and advocate a novel entailment principle that overcomes all the problems suffered by those other principles. The principle I defend places a supervenience-based constraint on grounding claims, and secures a substantive connection between grounding and modality, weaker than necessitation. (shrink)
Recent metaphysics has turned its focus to two notions that are—as well as having a common Aristotelian pedigree—widely thought to be intimately related: grounding and essence. Yet how, exactly, the two are related remains opaque. We develop a unified and uniform account of grounding and essence, one which understands them both in terms of a generalized notion of identity examined in recent work by Fabrice Correia, Cian Dorr, Agustín Rayo, and others. We argue that the account comports with (...) antecedently plausible principles governing grounding, essence, and identity taken individually, and illuminates how the three interact. We also argue that the account compares favorably to an alternative unification of grounding and essence recently proposed by Kit Fine. (shrink)
Ground offers the hope of vindicating and illuminating an classic philosophical idea: the layered conception, according to which reality is structured by relations of dependence, with physical phenomena on the bottom, upon which chemistry, then biology, and psychology reside. However, ground can only make good on this promise if it is appropriately formally behaved. The paradigm of good formal behavior can be found in the currently dominant grounding orthodoxy, which holds that ground is transitive, antisymmetric, irreflexive, and foundational. However, (...) heretics have recently challenged the orthodoxy. In this paper, I examine ground’s ability to vindicate the layered conception upon various relaxations of the orthodox assumptions. I argue that highly unorthodox views of ground can still vindicate the layered conception and that, in some ways, the heretical views enable ground to better serve as a guide to reality’s layering than do orthodox views of ground. (shrink)
According to a line of thought tracing from Descartes, Leibniz, and Locke through to Kripke, Levine, and Chalmers, there is a special explanatory gap arising between the physical and the phenomenal. I argue that the physical-phenomenal gap is not special but rather that such gaps are pervasive, lurking in the transition from the physical to the chemical and in every concrete transition from more to less fundamental. Correlatively, I argue that such gaps are unproblematic, so long as they are bridged (...) by substantive principles of metaphysical grounding. So I articulate a form of physicalism — “ground physicalism” — on which the physical grounds the chemical, the biological, and the psychological, and explain how ground physicalism resolves explanatory gap worries. (shrink)
I identify a notion of logical grounding, clarify it, and show how it can be used (i) to characterise various consequence relations, and (ii) to give a precise syntactic account of the notion of “groundedness” at work in the literature on the paradoxes of truth.
From 1929 onwards, C. I. Lewis defended the foundationalist claim that judgements of the form 'x is probable' only make sense if one assumes there to be a ground y that is certain (where x and y may be beliefs, propositions, or events). Without this assumption, Lewis argues, the probability of x could not be anything other than zero. Hans Reichenbach repeatedly contested Lewis's idea, calling it "a remnant of rationalism". The last move in this debate was a challenge by (...) Lewis, defying Reichenbach to produce a regress of probability values that yields a number other than zero. Reichenbach never took up the challenge, but we will meet it on his behalf, as it were. By presenting a series converging to a limit, we demonstrate that x can have a definite and computable probability, even if its justification consists of an infinite number of steps. Next we show the invalidity of a recent riposte of foundationalists that this limit of the series can be the ground of justification. Finally we discuss the question where justification can come from if not from a ground. (shrink)
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. The kinds of facts that might enter into the grounds of the facts of grounding are explored at length. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently found it congenial to talk in terms of grounding. Grounding discourse features grounding sentences that are answers to questions about what grounds what. The goal of this article is to explore and defend a counterpart-theoretic interpretation of grounding discourse. We are familiar with David Lewis's applications of the method of counterpart theory to de re modal discourse. Counterpart-theoretic interpretations of de re modal idioms and grounding sentences share similar motivations, (...) mechanisms, and applications. I shall explain my motivations and describe two applications of a counterpart theory for grounding discourse. But, in this article, my main focus is on counterpart-theoretic mechanisms. (shrink)
This paper is about the so-called meta-grounding question, i.e. the question of what grounds grounding facts of the sort ‘φ is grounded in Γ ’. An answer to this question is pressing since some plausible assumptions about grounding and fundamentality entail that grounding facts must be grounded. There are three different accounts on the market which each answer the meta-grounding question differently: Bennett’s and deRosset’s “Straight Forward Account” (SFA), Litland’s “Zero-Grounding Account” (ZGA), and “ (...) class='Hi'>Grounding Essentialism” (GE). I argue that if grounding is to be regarded as metaphysical explanation (i.e. if unionism is true), (GE) is to be preferred over (ZGA) and (SFA) as only (GE) is compatible with a crucial consequence of the thought that grounding is metaphysical explanation. In this manner the paper contributes not only to discussions about the ground of ground but also to the ongoing debate concerning the relationship between ground, essence, and explanation. (shrink)
Realists about universals face a question about grounding. Are things how they are because they instantiate the universals they do? Or do they instantiate those universals because they are how they are? Take Ebenezer Scrooge. You can say that Scrooge is greedy because he instantiates greediness, or you can say that Scrooge instantiates greediness because he is greedy. I argue that there is reason to prefer the latter to the former. I develop two arguments for the view. I also (...) respond to some concerns one might have about the view defended. I close by showing that analogous views regarding the truth of propositions and the existence of facts are supported by analogs of one of these arguments. (shrink)
Does the notion of ground, as it has recently been employed by metaphysicians, point to a single unified phenomenon? Jonathan Schaffer holds that the phenomenon of grounding exhibits the unity characteristic of a single genus. In defense of this hypothesis, Schaffer proposes to take seriously the analogy between causation and grounding. More specifically, Schaffer argues that both grounding and causation are best approached through a single formalism, viz., that utilized by structural equation models of causation. In this (...) paper, I present several concerns which suggest that the structural equation model does not transfer as smoothly from the case of causation to the case of grounding as Schaffer would have us believe. If it can in fact be shown that significant differences surface in how the formalism in question applies to the two types of phenomena in question, Schaffer’s attempt at establishing an analogy between grounding and causation has thereby been weakened and, as a result, the application of the Unity Hypothesis to the case of grounding once again stands in need of justification. (shrink)
Grounding contingentism is the doctrine according to which grounds are not guaranteed to necessitate what they ground. In this paper I will argue that the most plausible version of contingentism is incompatible with the idea that the grounding relation is transitive, unless either ‘priority monism’ or ‘contrastivism’ are assumed.