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 commissioned for the Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Ground. Depending on the decisions of the editor, Michael J. Raven, it may be published there.].
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  2. Investigating Non-Philosophers’ Judgements About the Asymmetry of Metaphysical Explanation.Andrew James 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. Indefinitely Descending Ground.Einar Duenger Bohn - forthcoming - In Ricki Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure. Oxford University Press.
    In this paper I argue against grounding being necessarily well-founded, and provide some reasons to think it's actually not well-founded.
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  5. 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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  6. Introducción a la Metafísica.Samuele Chilovi - forthcoming - In D. Lagier & G. Lariguet (eds.), Filosofía para Juristas. Una Introducción.
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  7. 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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  8. Grounding, Essence, and the Knowledge Argument.Philip Goff - forthcoming - In Sam Coleman (ed.), The Knowledge Argument. Cambridge University Press.
    Few these days dispute that the knowledge argument demonstrates an epistemic gap between the physical facts and the facts about experience. It is much more contentious whether that epistemic gap can be used to demonstrate a metaphysical gap of a kind that is inconsistent with physicalism. In this paper I will explore two attempts to block the inference from an epistemic gap to a metaphysical gap – the first from the phenomenal concept strategy, the second from Russellian monism – and (...)
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  9. 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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  10. Grounding Orthodoxy and the Layered Conception.Gabriel Oak Rabin - forthcoming - In Ricki Leigh Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  11. Building the Monarchy of the Father.Joshua R. Sijuwade - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-20.
    This article aims to provide an explication of the doctrine of the monarchy of the Father. A precisification of the doctrine is made within the building-fundamentality framework provided by Karen Bennett, which enables a further clarification of the central elements of the doctrine to be made and an important objection against it to be answered.
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  12. Full and Partial Grounding.Kelly Trogdon & D. Gene Witmer - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-20.
    Discussion of partial grounds that aren't parts of full grounds; definition of full grounding in terms of partial grounding.
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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. 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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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. When Do We Stop Digging? Conditions on a Fundamental Theory of Physics.Karen Crowther - 2019 - In Anthony Aguirre, Brendan Foster & Zeeya Merali (eds.), What is ‘Fundamental’? Springer. pp. 123-133.
    In seeking an answer to the question of what it means for a theory to be fundamental, it is enlightening to ask why the current best theories of physics are not generally believed to be fundamental. This reveals a set of conditions that a theory of physics must satisfy in order to be considered fundamental. Physics aspires to describe ever deeper levels of reality, which may be without end. Ultimately, at any stage we may not be able to tell whether (...)
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  38. What Is a Thing?M. Oreste Fiocco - 2019 - Metaphilosophy 50 (5):649-669.
    ‘Thing’ in the titular question should be construed as having the utmost generality. In the relevant sense, a thing just is an entity, an existent, a being. The present task is to say what a thing of any category is. This task is, I believe, the primary one of any comprehensive and systematic metaphysics. Indeed, an answer provides the means for resolving perennial disputes concerning the integrity of the structure in reality—whether some of the relations among things are necessary merely (...)
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  39. Each Thing Is Fundamental: Against Hylomorphism and Hierarchical Structure.M. Oreste Fiocco - 2019 - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (3):289-301.
    Each thing is fundamental. Not only is no thing any more or less real than any other, but no thing is prior to another in any robust ontological sense. Thus, no thing can explain the very existence of another, nor account for how another is what it is. I reach this surprising conclusion by undermining two important positions in contemporary metaphysics: hylomorphism and hierarchical views employing so-called building relations, such as grounding. The paper has three main parts. First, I observe (...)
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  40. O fundamentach dla metafizycznego fundowania.Karol Lenart - 2019 - Analiza I Egzystencja 45 (2019):5-24.
    In this article I defend a view according to which facts that express metaphysical grounding are grounded in essences of properties involved into a given grounding relationship. To justify this view, first, I present some reasons for a claim that metaphysical grounding is grounded. In the next step I discuss two theories that explain what are the grounds for grounding: a theory that involves a notion of a superinternal relation and a theory that uses a notion of essences of properties. (...)
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  41. Levels: Descriptive, Explanatory, and Ontological.Christian List - 2019 - Noûs 53 (4):852-883.
    Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. In this paper, I propose a unified framework for modelling levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and show that it can accommodate descriptive, explanatory, and ontological notions of levels. I further illustrate the usefulness of this framework by applying it to some salient philosophical questions: (1) Is there a linear hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the bottom? And (...)
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  42. Against Sider on Fundamentality.David Mathers - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (4):823-838.
    Sider’s Writing the Book of the World gives an account of fundamentality in terms of his central ideological notion ‘structure’. Here I first argue against Sider’s claim that to be fundamental to a degree is to be structural to a degree. I argue there’s a pair of properties, P1 and P2, such that P1 is the more fundamental, but Sider is committed to counting P2 as the more structural. I then argue that if relative structure and relative fundamentality can come (...)
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  43. A Psychologistic Theory of Metaphysical Explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2019 - Synthese 196 (7):2777-2802.
    Many think that sentences about what metaphysically explains what are true iff there exist grounding relations. This suggests that sceptics about grounding should be error theorists about metaphysical explanation. We think there is a better option: a theory of metaphysical explanation which offers truth conditions for claims about what metaphysically explains what that are not couched in terms of grounding relations, but are instead couched in terms of, inter alia, psychological facts. We do not argue that our account is superior (...)
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  44. Making Things Up, by Karen Bennett. [REVIEW]Alastair Wilson - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):588-600.
    Making Things Up, by Karen Bennett. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xi + 260.
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  45. Comments on Making Things Up.Jessica M. Wilson - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (2):497-506.
    These comments are part of a book symposium on Karen Bennett's book, _Making Things Up_.
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  46. The Unity of Grounding.Selim Berker - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):729-777.
    I argue—contra moderate grounding pluralists such as Kit Fine and more extreme grounding pluralists such as Jessica Wilson—that there is fundamentally only one grounding/in-virtue-of relation. I also argue that this single relation is indispensable for normative theorizing—that we can’t make sense of, for example, the debate over consequentialism without it. It follows from what I argue that there is no metaethically-pure normative ethics.
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  47. Review of Karen Bennett's Making Things Up. [REVIEW]Louis deRosset - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2018.
    A review of Karen Bennett's /Making Things Up/.
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  48. Truths Qua Grounds.Ghislain Guigon - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (1):99-125.
    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 (...)
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  49. From Nature to Grounding.Mark Jago - 2018 - In Ricki Leigh Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 199-216.
    Grounding is a powerful metaphysical concept; yet there is widespread scepticism about the intelligibility of the notion. In this paper, I propose an account of an entity’s nature or essence, which I then use to provide grounding conditions for that entity. I claim that an understanding of an entity’s nature, together with an account of how logically complex entities are grounded, provides all we need to understand how that entity is grounded. This approach not only allows us to say what (...)
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  50. Objective Fundamental Reality Structure by the Unreduced Complexity Development.Andrei P. Kirilyuk - 2018 - FQXi Essay Contest 2017-2018 “What Is “Fundamental””.
    We explain why exactly the simplified abstract scheme of reality within the standard science paradigm cannot provide the consistent picture of “truly fundamental” reality and how the unreduced, causally complete description of the latter is regained within the extended, provably complete solution to arbitrary interaction problem and the ensuing concept of universal dynamic complexity. We emphasize the practical importance of this extension for both particular problem solution and further, now basically unlimited fundamental science development (otherwise dangerously stagnating within its traditional (...)
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