Fundamentality

Edited by Alexander Skiles (Rutgers University - New Brunswick)
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  1. Are Skeptical Doubts About Ground Warranted?Louis deRosset - manuscript
    No. More carefully: apparently not. [This piece was published in the Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Ground (2020), edited by Michael J. Raven with the title "Anti-Skeptical Rejoinders", pp. 180-193].
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  2. Investigating Non-Philosophers’ Judgements About the Asymmetry of Metaphysical Explanation.Andrew J. Latham & Kristie Miller - manuscript
    It is often supposed that metaphysical explanation is asymmetric: that for all x and y, if x metaphysically explains y, then y does not metaphysically explain x. Even amongst those who hold that metaphysical explanation is not asymmetric, but nonsymmetric, it is assumed that a relatively small number of particular explanations are symmetric: by and large, if x metaphysically explains y, then y does not metaphysically explain x. Both parties agree that as a matter of fact we at least typically (...)
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  3. Metaphysically Opaque Grounding.Henrik Rydéhn - manuscript
    It is commonly assumed that metaphysical grounding is an especially intimate and powerful connection between facts that enables a form of explanation which is particularly strict and illuminating. An arguably related idea is that grounding is necessarily connected with the core features of things – their essences or natures. This article is concerned with metaphysically opaque grounding – a form of grounding which falsifies both these ideas. I argue that there are important views in metaphysics that are committed to there (...)
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  4. Against Purity.Jonathan Barker - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    A fundamental fact is “pure” just in case it has no grounded entities—ex. Tokyo, President Biden, the River Nile, {Socrates}, etc.—among its constituents. Purity is the thesis that every fundamental fact is pure. I argue that Purity is false. My argument begins with a familiar conditional: if Purity is true, then there are no fundamental “grounding facts” or facts about what grounds what. This conditional is accepted by virtually all of Purity’s defenders. However, I argue that it is also the (...)
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  5. The Harmony of Grounding.Samuel Baron, Kristie Miller & Jonathan Tallant - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Mereological harmony is the idea that the mereological structure of objects mirrors the mereological structure of locations. Grounding harmony is the idea that there is a similar mirroring between the grounding structure of objects and locations. Our goal in this paper is exploratory: we introduce and then explore two notions of grounding harmony: locative and structural. We outline potential locative and structural harmony principles for grounding, and show which of these principles may entail, or be entailed by, principles of mereological (...)
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  6. Metaphysical Foundationalism and Theoretical Unification.Andrew Brenner - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    Some facts ground other facts. Some fact is fundamental iff there are no other facts which partially or fully ground that fact. According to metaphysical foundationalism, every non-fundamental fact is fully grounded by some fundamental fact. In this paper I examine and defend some neglected considerations which might be made in favor of metaphysical foundationalism. Building off of work by Ross Cameron, I suggest that foundationalist theories are more unified than, and so in one important respect simpler than, non-foundationalist theories, (...)
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  7. A New Argument for the Groundedness of Grounding Facts.Fabrice Correia - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-16.
    Many philosophers have recently been impressed by an argument to the effect that all grounding facts about “derivative entities”—e.g. the facts expressed by the true sentences ‘the fact that Beijing is a concrete entity is grounded in the fact that its parts are concrete’ and ‘the fact that there are cities is grounded in the fact that p’, where ‘p’ is a suitable sentence couched in the language of particle physics—must themselves be grounded. This argument relies on a principle, Purity, (...)
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  8. Joints and Basic Ways.Christopher Frugé - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Metaphysicians often distinguish between joints and basic ways. Joints are the unified and joint-carving properties that trace the structure of the world. They are theorized under the ideology of structural, perfectly natural, or sparse properties. Basic ways are the ultimate and independent properties that give rise to all others. They are theorized under the ideology of grounding, where the ungrounded properties are the basic ways. While these notions are often seen as rivals, I argue that we need both, because the (...)
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  9. Against Representational Levels.Nicholas K. Jones - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    Some views articulate reality's hierarchical structure using relations from the fundamental to representations of reality. Other views instead use relations from the fundamental to constituents of non-representational reality. This paper argues against the first kind of view.
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  10. Self-Explanation and Empty-Base Explanation.Yannic Kappes - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-18.
    This paper explores a novel notion of self-explanation which combines ideas from two sources: (1) the tripartite account of explanation, according to which a proposition can help explain another either in the capacity of a reason why the latter obtains or in the capacity of an explanatory link, and (2) the notion of an empty-base explanation (sometimes called 'null-explanation'), which generalizes the ideas of explanation by zero-grounding and explanation by status. After having introduced these ideas and the novel notion of (...)
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  11. Ontology Without Hierarchy.Kristie Miller, Michael J. Duncan & James Norton - forthcoming - In Javier Cumpa (ed.), The Question of Ontology: The Contemporary Debate. Oxford University Press.
    It has recently become popular to suggest that questions of ontology ought be settled by determining, first, which fundamental things exist, and second, which derivative things depend on, or are grounded by, those fundamental things. This methodology typically leads to a hierarchical view of ontology according to which there are chains of entities, each dependent on the next, all the way down to a fundamental base. In this paper we defend an alternative ontological picture according to which there is no (...)
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  12. Essentialist Non-Reductivism.Taylor-Grey Miller - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    According to many contemporary metaphysicians, we ought to theorize in terms of grounding because of its promise to explicate the idea of reality having a layered structure. However, a tension emerges when one combines the layered structure view with the view that higher-level facts are not reducible to lower level facts. This tension emerges from two problems. The first problem arises from the fact that grounding explanations entail true universal generalizations. In order to satisfy this constraint, we will face serious (...)
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  13. Fundamentality and Levels in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.Alastair Wilson - forthcoming - In Valia Allori (ed.), Quantum Mechanics and Fundamentality. Springer.
    Distinctions in fundamentality between different levels of description are central to the viability of contemporary decoherence-based Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM). This approach to quantum theory characteristically combines a determinate fundamental reality (one universal wave function) with an indeterminate emergent reality (multiple decoherent worlds). In this chapter I explore how the Everettian appeal to fundamentality and emergence can be understood within existing metaphysical frameworks, identify grounding and concept fundamentality as promising theoretical tools, and use them to characterize a system of explanatory (...)
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  14. Composing Spacetime.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (1):33-54.
    According to a number of approaches in theoretical physics, spacetime does not exist fundamentally. Rather, spacetime exists by depending on another, more fundamental, non-spatiotemporal structure. A prevalent opinion in the literature is that this dependence should not be analyzed in terms of composition. We should not say, that is, that spacetime depends on an ontology of non-spatiotemporal entities in virtue of having them as parts. But is that really right? On the contrary, we argue that a mereological approach to dependent (...)
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  15. The Unity of Dependence.Jack Casey - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association (2):1-18.
    Most philosophers treat ontological dependence and metaphysical dependence as distinct relations. A number of key differences between the two relations are usually cited in support of this claim: ontological dependence's unique connection to existence, differing respective connections to metaphysical necessitation, and a divergence in their formal features. Alongside reshaping some of the examples used to maintain the distinction between the two, I argue that the additional resources offered by the increased attention the notion of grounding has received in recent years (...)
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  16. Metafísica para Juristas.Samuele Chilovi - 2022 - In D. Lagier & G. Lariguet (eds.), Filosofía. Una Introducción para Juristas. Madrid: Trotta.
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  17. Everyday Metaphysical Explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2022 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Kristie Miller and James Norton present a new account of metaphysical explanation, not as a philosophical technicality but as a feature of everyday life. This is the notion that we all use in ordinary contexts when we give explanations of a certain sort: Miller and Norton build their account on investigation of these explanatory practices.
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  18. Metaphysical Foundationalism: Consensus and Controversy.Thomas Oberle - 2022 - American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (1):97-110.
    There has been an explosion of interest in the metaphysics of fundamentality in recent decades. The consensus view, called metaphysical foundationalism, maintains that there is something absolutely fundamental in reality upon which everything else depends. However, a number of thinkers have chal- lenged the arguments in favor of foundationalism and have proposed competing non-foundationalist ontologies. This paper provides a systematic and critical introduction to metaphysical foundationalism in the current literature and argues that its relation to ontological dependence and substance should (...)
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  19. Something From Nothing: Why Some Negative Existentials Are Fundamental.Fatema Amijee - 2021 - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-being: New Essays on the Metaphysics of Nonexistence. Oxford University Press. pp. 50-68.
    It strikes many as obvious that negative facts—such as that Justin Trudeau is not the prime minister of Australia—are not fundamental: negative facts must ultimately be explained in terms of positive facts (for instance, that Justin Trudeau is the prime minister of Canada). I focus on a particular class of negative facts: contingent negative existentials (such as that there are no 10ft tall humans). If contingent negative existentials are not fundamental, then they must be explained. But the claim that contingent (...)
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  20. Grounding and the Myth of Ontological Innocence.Jonathan Barker - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):303-318.
    According to the Ontological Innocence Thesis (OIT), grounded entities are ontologically innocent relative to their full grounds. I argue that OIT entails a contradiction, and therefore must be discarded. My argument turns on the notion of “groundmates,” two or more numerically distinct entities that share at least one of their full grounds. I argue that, if OIT is true, then it is both the case that there are groundmates and that there are no groundmates. Therefore, so I conclude, OIT is (...)
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  21. Could a middle level be the most fundamental?Sara Bernstein - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1065-1078.
    Debates over what is fundamental assume that what is most fundamental must be either a “top” level (roughly, the biggest or highest-level thing), or a “bottom” level (roughly, the smallest or lowest-level things). Here I sketch an alternative to top-ism and bottom-ism, the view that a middle level could be the most fundamental, and argue for its plausibility. I then suggest that the view satisfies the desiderata of asymmetry, irreflexivity, transitivity, and well-foundedness of fundamentality, that the view has explanatory power (...)
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  22. Ditching Dependence and Determination: Or, How to Wear the Crazy Trousers.Michael J. Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2021 - Synthese 198:395–418.
    This paper defends Flatland—the view that there exist neither determination nor dependence relations, and that everything is therefore fundamental—from the objection from explanatory inefficacy. According to that objection, Flatland is unattractive because it is unable to explain either the appearance as of there being determination relations, or the appearance as of there being dependence relations. We show how the Flatlander can meet the first challenge by offering four strategies—reducing, eliminating, untangling and omnizing—which, jointly, explain the appearance as of there being (...)
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  23. A challenge to the new metaphysics: deRosset, Priority, and explanation.David Fisher, Hao Hong & Timothy Perrine - 2021 - Synthese 198 (7):6403-6433.
    Priority Theory is an increasingly popular view in metaphysics. By seeing metaphysical questions as primarily concerned with what explains what, instead of merely what exists, it promises not only an interesting approach to traditional metaphysical issues but also the resolution of some outstanding disputes. In a recent paper, Louis deRosset argues that Priority Theory isn’t up to the task: Priority Theory is committed to there being explanations that violate a formal constraint on any adequate explanation. This paper critically examines deRosset’s (...)
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  24. Fundamental Yet Grounded.Joaquim Giannotti - 2021 - Theoria 87 (3):578-599.
    Grounding is claimed to offer a promising characterization of the fundamental as thatwhich is ungrounded. Detractors of this view argue that there can be fundamental and yet mutuallygrounded entities. Such a possibility undermines the denition of the fundamental as theungrounded. I aim to show, however, that the possibility of fundamental mutually grounded entitiesdoes not force us to renounce the prospects of characterizing fundamentality in terms of ground-ing. To accomplish this aim, I defend a grounding-based view that accommodates fundamentalmutually grounded entities (...)
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  25. Grounding, Metaphysical Laws, and Structure.Martin Grajner - 2021 - Analytic Philosophy 62 (4):376-395.
    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 (...)
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  26. Grounding and the Existence of God.Joshua Sijuwade - 2021 - Metaphysica.
    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 (...)
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  27. Fundamentality and the Existence of God.Joshua R. Sijuwade - 2021 - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía:1-76.
    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 existence of certain entities within the layered structure of reality. More precisely, I assume the cogency of Swinburne’s explanatory framework and seek to resituate it within a new philosophical context-that of the field of contemporary metaphysics-which will enable me to develop a true fundamental explanation for the existence of the non-fundamental entities that fill (...)
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  28. Fundamental non-qualitative properties.Byron Simmons - 2021 - Synthese 198 (7):6183-6206.
    The distinction between qualitative and non-qualitative properties should be familiar from discussions of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles: two otherwise exactly similar individuals, Castor and Pollux, might share all their qualitative properties yet differ with respect to their non-qualitative properties—for while Castor has the property being identical to Castor, Pollux does not. But while this distinction is familiar, there has not been much critical attention devoted to spelling out its precise nature. I argue that the class of non-qualitative (...)
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  29. Backing as Truthmaking.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (5):367–383.
    Separatists about grounding take explanations to be separate from their corresponding grounding-facts. Grounding-facts are supposed to underlie, or back, such explanations. However, the backing relation hasn’t received much attention in the literature. The aim of this paper is to provide an informative definition of backing. First, I examine two prominent proposals: backing as explaining (Kovacs 2017; 2019a) and backing as grounding (see Sjölin Wirling 2020). Finally, I put forward my own proposal. I argue that under plausible assumptions about the role (...)
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  30. Bohmian Holism.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2021 - In Petteri Limnell & Tero Vadén (eds.), Unfolding the Big Picture. Essays in Honour of Paavo Pylkkänen. Philosophical Studies from the University of Helsinki. pp. 7-18.
    This is a contribution to Paavo Pylkkänen's Festschrift. I discuss his relationship to Bohm's philosophy and a sense of holism that can be extracted from the Bohmian view.
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  31. Full and Partial Grounding.Kelly Trogdon & D. Gene Witmer - 2021 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (2):252-271.
    Discussion of partial grounds that aren't parts of full grounds; definition of full grounding in terms of partial grounding.
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  32. The Ground of Ground, Essence, and Explanation.Michael Wallner - 2021 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 6):1257-1277.
    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 “Grounding Essentialism” (GE). I argue that if (...)
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  33. Logical Combinatorialism.Andrew Bacon - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (4):537-589.
    In explaining the notion of a fundamental property or relation, metaphysicians will often draw an analogy with languages. The fundamental properties and relations stand to reality as the primitive predicates and relations stand to a language: the smallest set of vocabulary God would need in order to write the “book of the world.” This paper attempts to make good on this metaphor. To that end, a modality is introduced that, put informally, stands to propositions as logical truth stands to sentences. (...)
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  34. Naturalness as a Constraint on Priors.Darren Bradley - 2020 - Mind 129 (513):179-203.
    Many epistemological problems can be solved by the objective Bayesian view that there are rationality constraints on priors, that is, inductive probabilities. But attempts to work out these constraints have run into such serious problems that many have rejected objective Bayesianism altogether. I argue that the epistemologist should borrow the metaphysician’s concept of naturalness and assign higher priors to more natural hypotheses.
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  35. The Metaphysics of Establishments.Daniel Z. Korman - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (3):434-448.
    I present two puzzles about the metaphysics of stores, restaurants, and other such establishments. I defend a solution to the puzzles, according to which establishments are not material objects and are not constituted by the buildings that they occupy.
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  36. Skeptical Doubts.Kathrin Koslicki - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. London, UK: pp. 164-179.
    This chapter reviews several varieties of grounding skepticism as well as responses that have been proposed by grounding enthusiasts to considerations raised by grounding skeptics. Grounding skeptics, as I conceive of them here, are theorists who belong to one of the following two schools of thought. “Old-school” grounding skeptics doubt the theoretical utility of the grounding idiom by denying one of its presuppositions, viz., that this notion is at least intelligible or coherent. “Second-generation” grounding skeptics call into question the theoretical (...)
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  37. Modality.David Mark Kovacs - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 348-360.
    A survey of the connection between grounding and modality, in particular supervenience. The survey explores three possible connections between grounding and supervenience: (1) supervenience can be analyzed in terms of grounding, (2) grounded facts supervene on their grounds, and (3) grounding and supervenience overlap in their theoretical roles.
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  38. Metaphysically explanatory unification.David Mark Kovacs - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1659-1683.
    This paper develops and motivates a unification theory of metaphysical explanation, or as I will call it, Metaphysical Unificationism. The theory’s main inspiration is the unification account of scientific explanation, according to which explanatoriness is a holistic feature of theories that derive a large number of explananda from a meager set of explanantia, using a small number of argument patterns. In developing Metaphysical Unificationism, I will point out that it has a number of interesting consequences. The view offers a novel (...)
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  39. String Theory, Loop Quantum Gravity and Eternalism.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10:17.
    Eternalism, the view that what we regard locally as being located in the past, the present and the future equally exists, is the best ontological account of temporal existence in line with special and general relativity. However, special and general relativity are not fundamental theories and several research programs aim at finding a more fundamental theory of quantum gravity weaving together all we know from relativistic physics and quantum physics. Interestingly, some of these approaches assert that time is not fundamental. (...)
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  40. The Puzzles of Ground.Adam Lovett - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2541-2564.
    I outline and provide a solution to some paradoxes of ground.
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  41. Two notions of holism.Elizabeth Miller - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4187-4206.
    A simple argument proposes a direct link between realism about quantum mechanics and one kind of metaphysical holism: if elementary quantum theory is at least approximately true, then there are entangled systems with intrinsic whole states for which the intrinsic properties and spatiotemporal arrangements of salient subsystem parts do not suffice. Initially, the proposal is compelling: we can find variations on such reasoning throughout influential discussions of entanglement. Upon further consideration, though, this simple argument proves a bit too simple. To (...)
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  42. Grounding Nonexistence.Daniel Muñoz - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (2):209-229.
    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 (...)
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  43. The Logic of Leibniz’s Borrowed Reality Argument.Stephen Puryear - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (279):350-370.
    Leibniz argues that there must be a fundamental level of simple substances because composites borrow their reality from their constituents and not all reality can be borrowed. I contend that the underlying logic of this ‘borrowed reality argument’ has been misunderstood, particularly the rationale for the key premise that not all reality can be borrowed. Contrary to what has been suggested, the rationale turns neither on the alleged viciousness of an unending regress of reality borrowers nor on the Principle of (...)
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  44. New twists on the great chain of being: Ricki Bliss and Graham Priest (eds): Reality and its structure. Essays in fundamentality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, 324 pp, £50 HB. [REVIEW]Pierre Saint-Germier - 2020 - Metascience 29 (2):345-349.
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  45. Metaphysical and Conceptual Grounding.Robert Smithson - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (6):1501-1525.
    Recently, many philosophers have claimed that the world has an ordered, hierarchical structure, where entities at lower ontological levels are said to metaphysically ground entities at higher ontological levels. Other philosophers have recently claimed that our language has an ordered, hierarchical structure. Semantically primitive sentences are said to conceptually ground less primitive sentences. It’s often emphasized that metaphysical grounding is a relation between things out in the world, not a relation between our sentences. But conflating these relations is easy to (...)
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  46. Structure.Tuomas Tahko - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York: Routledge. pp. 387-395.
    An exploration of ground’s connections to structure (joint-carving, naturalness). The notion of structure is often invoked in connection to ground, because grounding is understood to impose constraints on the ‘structure of reality’. There is another, technical sense of structure, sometimes captured with reference to the notion of ‘joint-carving’. Both of these senses of structure as well as their potential connections are discussed.
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  47. Substitution Structures.Andrew Bacon - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 48 (6):1017-1075.
    An increasing amount of twenty-first century metaphysics is couched in explicitly hyperintensional terms. A prerequisite of hyperintensional metaphysics is that reality itself be hyperintensional: at the metaphysical level, propositions, properties, operators, and other elements of the type hierarchy, must be more fine-grained than functions from possible worlds to extensions. In this paper I develop, in the setting of type theory, a general framework for reasoning about the granularity of propositions and properties. The theory takes as primitive the notion of a (...)
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  48. Metaphysical Explanation by Constraint.Michael Bertrand - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (6):1325-1340.
    It is often thought that metaphysical grounding underwrites a distinctive sort of metaphysical explanation. However, it would be a mistake to think that all metaphysical explanations are underwritten by metaphysical grounding. In service of this claim, I offer a novel kind of metaphysical explanation called metaphysical explanation by constraint, examples of which have been neglected in the literature. I argue that metaphysical explanations by constraint are not well understood as grounding explanations.
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  49. Essays on the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - Dissertation, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
    What is the proper metaphysics of quantum mechanics? In this dissertation, I approach the question from three different but related angles. First, I suggest that the quantum state can be understood intrinsically as relations holding among regions in ordinary space-time, from which we can recover the wave function uniquely up to an equivalence class (by representation and uniqueness theorems). The intrinsic account eliminates certain conventional elements (e.g. overall phase) in the representation of the quantum state. It also dispenses with first-order (...)
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  50. Grounding, Essence, And Identity.Fabrice Correia & Alexander Skiles - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):642-670.
    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 (...)
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