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  1. Aristotelian universals, strong immanence, and construction.Damiano Costa & Alessandro Giordani - 2024 - Synthese 203 (2):1-15.
    The Aristotelian view of universals, according to which each universal generically depends for its existence on its instantiations, has recently come under attack by a series of ground-theoretic arguments. The last such arguments, presented by Raven, promises to offer several significant improvements over its predecessors, such as avoiding commitment to the transitivity of ground and offering new reasons for the metaphysical priority of universals over their instantiations. In this paper, we argue that Raven's argument does not effectively avoid said commitment (...)
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  2. From Multilevel Explanation to Downward Causation.David Yates - forthcoming - In Alastair Wilson & Katie Robertson (eds.), Levels of Explanation. Oxford University Press.
    The causal closure of the physical poses a familiar causal exclusion problem for the special sciences that stems from the idea that if closure is true, then fundamental physical properties do all the causal work involved in bringing about physical effects. In this paper I aim to show that the strongest causal closure principle that is not ruled out by some simple physics in fact allows for a certain kind of downward causation, which in turn makes room for robust special (...)
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  3. Janus-Faced Grounding.Christopher Frugé - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10.
    A common view in the metaphysics of ground is that all grounding facts are grounded. This generates an infinite regress of ever more grounding of grounding facts, but most grounding theorists take the regress to be harmless. However, in this paper, I argue that the regress is in fact vicious, therefore some grounding facts are ungrounded. Since the regress appears to fall out of two plausible principles of fundamentality, I offer a new interpretation of them that allows for ungrounded grounding (...)
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  4. Agential Possibilities.Christian List - 2023 - Possibility Studies and Society.
    We ordinarily think that we human beings have agency: we have control over our choices and make a difference to our environments. Yet it is not obvious how agency can fit into a physical world that is governed by exceptionless laws of nature. In particular, it is unclear how agency is possible if those laws are deterministic and the universe functions like a mechanical clockwork. In this short paper, I first explain the apparent conflict between agency and physical determinism (referring (...)
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  5. Determination from Above.Kenneth Silver - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):237-251.
    There are many historical concerns about freedom that have come to be deemphasized in the free will literature itself—for instance, worries around the tyranny of government or the alienation of capitalism. It is hard to see how the current free will literature respects these, or indeed how they could even find expression. This paper seeks to show how these and other concerns can be reintegrated into the debate by appealing to a levels ontology. Recently, Christian List and others have considered (...)
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  6. A Dormitive Virtue Puzzle.Elanor Taylor - forthcoming - In Alastair Wilson & Katie Robertson (eds.), Levels of Explanation. Oxford University Press.
    In Molière’s comedy The Imaginary Invalid a doctor “explains” that opium reliably induces sleep because it has a “dormitive virtue.” Molière intended this to be a satirical play on the use of opaque scholastic concepts in medicine, and since then the phrase “dormitive virtue” has become a byword for explanatory failure. However, contemporary work on the metaphysics of grounding and dispositions appears to permit explanations with a strikingly similar structure. In this paper I explore competing verdicts on dormitive virtue explanation, (...)
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  7. Functionalism, Reductionism, and Levels of Reality.Lorenzo Lorenzetti - 2023 - Philosophy of Science:1-26.
    I consider a problem for functional reductionism, based on the following tension. Say that b is functionally reduced to a. On the one hand, a and b turn out to be identical, and identity is a symmetric relation. On the other hand, functional reductionism implies that a and b are asymmetrically related: if b is functionally reduced to a, then a is not functionally reduced to b. Thus, we ask: how can a and b be asymmetrically related if they are (...)
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  8. Varieties of Grounding.Richardson Kevin - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York: Routledge. pp. 194-208.
    Is metaphysical grounding One or Many? If you think grounding is one, you are a monist; there is one (or one fundamental) kind of grounding. If you think grounding is Many, you are a pluralist; there are multiple (or multiple equally fundamental) kinds of grounding. This essay surveys the ways in which one could be a pluralist about grounding.
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  9. Functionalising the wavefunction.Lorenzo Lorenzetti - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 96 (C):141-153.
    Functionalism is the view that being x is to play the role of x. This paper defends a functionalist account of three-dimensional entities in the context of Wave Function Realism (WFR), that can explain in detail how we can recover three-dimensional entities out of the wavefunction. In particular, the essay advocates for a novel version of WFR in terms of a functional reductionist approach in the style of David Lewis. This account entails reduction of the upper entities to the bottom (...)
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  10. Lightweight and Heavyweight Anti-physicalism.Damian Aleksiev - 2022 - Synthese 200 (112):1-23.
    I define two metaphysical positions that anti-physicalists can take in response to Jonathan Schaffer’s ground functionalism. Ground functionalism is a version of physicalism where explanatory gaps are everywhere. If ground functionalism is true, arguments against physicalism based on the explanatory gap between the physical and experiential facts fail. In response, first, I argue that some anti-physicalists are already safe from Schaffer’s challenge. These anti-physicalists reject an underlying assumption of ground functionalism: the assumption that macrophysical entities are something over and above (...)
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  11. 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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  12. Causal Exclusion and Ontic Vagueness.Kenneth Silver - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (1):56-69.
    The Causal Exclusion Problem is raised in many domains, including in the metaphysics of macroscopic objects. If there is a complete explanation of macroscopic effects in terms of the microscopic entities that compose macroscopic objects, then the efficacy of the macroscopic will be threatened with exclusion. I argue that we can avoid the problem if we accept that macroscopic objects are ontically vague. Then, it is indeterminate which collection of microscopic entities compose them, and so information about microscopic entities is (...)
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  13. 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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Theories of Levels
  1. Non‐cognitivism about Metaphysical explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2022 - Analytic Philosophy 64 (2):1-20.
    This article introduces a non‐cognitivist account of metaphysical explanation according to which the core function of judgements of the form ⌜x because y⌝ is not to state truth‐apt beliefs. Instead, their core function is to express attitudes of commitment to, and recommendation of the acceptance of certain norms governing interventional conduct at contexts.
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  2. Non‐cognitivism about Metaphysical explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2022 - Analytic Philosophy 64 (2):1-20.
    This article introduces a non‐cognitivist account of metaphysical explanation according to which the core function of judgements of the form ⌜x because y⌝ is not to state truth‐apt beliefs. Instead, their core function is to express attitudes of commitment to, and recommendation of the acceptance of certain norms governing interventional conduct at contexts.
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  3. Non‐cognitivism about Metaphysical explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2022 - Analytic Philosophy 64 (2):1-20.
    This article introduces a non‐cognitivist account of metaphysical explanation according to which the core function of judgements of the form ⌜x because y⌝ is not to state truth‐apt beliefs. Instead, their core function is to express attitudes of commitment to, and recommendation of the acceptance of certain norms governing interventional conduct at contexts.
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  4. Levels of Description and Levels of Reality: A General Framework.Christian List - manuscript
    This expository paper presents a general framework for representing levels and inter-level relations. The framework is intended to capture both epistemic and ontological notions of levels and to clarify the sense in which levels of explanation might or might not be related to a levelled ontology. The framework also allows us to study and compare different kinds of inter-level relations, especially supervenience and reduction but also grounding and mereological constitution. This, in turn, enables us to explore questions such as whether (...)
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  5. The naturalistic case for free will.Christian List - forthcoming - In Stavros Ioannidis, Gal Vishne, Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker (eds.), Levels of Reality in Science and Philosophy. Cham: Springer.
    The aim of this expository paper is to give an informal overview of a plausible naturalistic case for free will. I will describe what I take to be the main naturalistically motivated challenges for free will and respond to them by presenting an indispensability argument for free will. The argument supports the reality of free will as an emergent higher-level phenomenon. I will also explain why the resulting picture of free will does not conflict with the possibility that the fundamental (...)
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  6. Special-science counterfactuals.Christian List - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):194–213.
    On the standard analysis, a counterfactual conditional such as “If P had been the case, then Q would have been the case” is true in the actual world if, in all nearest possible worlds in which its antecedent (P) is true, its consequent (Q) is also true. Despite its elegance, this analysis faces a difficulty if the laws of nature are deterministic. Then the antecedent could not have been true, given prior conditions. So, it is unclear what the relevant “nearest (...)
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  7. Against Representational Levels.Nicholas K. Jones - 2023 - Philosophical Perspectives 36 (1):140-157.
    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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  8. The Disappearing Agent as an Exclusion Problem.Johannes Himmelreich - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    The disappearing agent problem is an argument in the metaphysics of agency. Proponents of the agent-causal approach argue that the rival event-causal approach fails to account for the fact that an agent is active. This paper examines an analogy between this disappearing agent problem and the exclusion problem in the metaphysics of mind. I develop the analogy between these two problems and survey existing solutions. I suggest that some solutions that have received significant attention in response to the exclusion problem (...)
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  9. Unity of Science.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Unity of science was once a very popular idea among both philosophers and scientists. But it has fallen out of fashion, largely because of its association with reductionism and the challenge from multiple realisation. Pluralism and the disunity of science are the new norm, and higher-level natural kinds and special science laws are considered to have an important role in scientific practice. What kind of reductionism does multiple realisability challenge? What does it take to reduce one phenomenon to another? How (...)
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  10. Quantum Considerations in the Metaphysics of Levels.Ryan Miller - 2024? - Dissertation, Université de Genève
    Amie Thomasson challenges advocates of layered conceptions of reality to explain “how layers are distinguished” and “what holds them together” by “examining the world” (2014). One strategy for answering such questions is mereological, treating inter-layer relations as parthood relations, where layers exist whenever composition does, and the number of layers will be equivalent to the number of answers to Peter Van Inwagen’s Special Composition Question, while answers to his General Composition Question explain what holds the layers together (1987). Various answers (...)
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  11. The Levels of Scientific Disciplines.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    It is the aim of this paper to develop and defend an interpretation of level of scientific discipline within the truth-maker framework. In particular, I exploit the mereological relation of proper parthood, which is integral to truth-maker semantics, in order to provide an account of scientific level.
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  12. Ditching Dependence and Determination: Or, How to Wear the Crazy Trousers.Michael Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2021 - Synthese 198 (1):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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  13. Mechanistic Levels, Reduction, and Emergence.Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - 2017 - In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 185-97.
    We sketch the mechanistic approach to levels, contrast it with other senses of “level,” and explore some of its metaphysical implications. This perspective allows us to articulate what it means for things to be at different levels, to distinguish mechanistic levels from realization relations, and to describe the structure of multilevel explanations, the evidence by which they are evaluated, and the scientific unity that results from them. This approach is not intended to solve all metaphysical problems surrounding physicalism. Yet it (...)
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  14. Natural Kinds and Crosscutting Categories.Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 1998 - Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):33.
    There are many ways of construing the claim that some categories are more “natural" than others. One can ask whether a system of categories is innate or acquired by learning, whether it pertains to a natural phenomenon or to a social institution, whether it is lexicalized in natural language or requires a compound linguistic expression. This renders suspect any univocal answer to this question in any particular case. Yet another question one can ask, which some authors take to have a (...)
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Metaphysical Levels, Misc
  1. Levels of Fundamentality in the Metaphysics of Physics.Karen Crowther - manuscript
    Within physics there are two ways of establishing the relative fundamentality of one theory compared to another, via two senses of reduction: "inter-level" and "intra-level" (Crowther, 2018). The former is standardly recognised as roughly correlating with the chain of ontological dependence (i.e., the phenomena described by theories of macro-physics are typically supposed to be ontologically dependent on the entities/behaviour described by theories of micro-physics), and thus has been of interest to naturalised metaphysics. The latter, though, has not been considered interesting (...)
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  2. Against Purity.Jonathan Barker - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9.
    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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  3. Physicalism, Foundationalism, and Infinite Descent.Jonas Werner - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-6.
    This paper contributes to answering the question how physicalism can be defined for a world without fundamental physical phenomena. In a recent paper in this journal, Torin Alter, Sam Coleman, and Robert J. Howell propose a necessary condition on physicalism. They argue that physicalism is true only if there is no infinitely descending chain of mentally constituted phenomena. I argue that this alleged necessary condition faces counterexamples. An infinitely descending chain of mentally constituted phenomena is compatible with physicalism. Afterwards I (...)
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  4. Relativity in a Fundamentally Absolute World.Jack Spencer - 2022 - Philosophical Perspectives 36 (1):305-328.
    This paper develops a view on which: (a) all fundamental facts are absolute, (b) some facts do not supervene on the fundamental facts, and (c) only relative facts fail to supervene on the fundamental facts.
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  5. Non‐cognitivism about Metaphysical explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2022 - Analytic Philosophy 64 (2):1-20.
    This article introduces a non‐cognitivist account of metaphysical explanation according to which the core function of judgements of the form ⌜x because y⌝ is not to state truth‐apt beliefs. Instead, their core function is to express attitudes of commitment to, and recommendation of the acceptance of certain norms governing interventional conduct at contexts.
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  6. Multi-Descriptional Physicalism, Level(s) of Being, and the Mind-Body Problem.Savvas Ioannou - 2022 - Dissertation, University of St. Andrews
    The main idea of this thesis is multi-descriptional physicalism. According to it, only physical entities are elements of our ontology, and there are different ways to describe them. Higher-level vocabularies (e.g., mental, neurological, biological) truly describe reality. Sentences about higher-level entities are made true by physical entities. Every chapter will develop multi-descriptional physicalism or defend it from objections. In chapter 1, I will propose a new conceptual reductive account that conceptually reduces higher-level entities to physical entities. This conceptual reductive account (...)
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  7. Free Will and the Cross-Level Consequence Argument.Jonathan Birch - 2020
    Christian List has recently constructed a novel formal framework for representing the relationship between free will and determinism. At its core is a distinction between physical and agential levels of description. List has argued that, since the consequence argument cannot be reconstructed within this framework, the consequence argument rests on a ‘category mistake’: an illicit conflation of the physical and agential levels. I show that an expanded version of List’s framework allows the construction of a cross-level consequence argument.
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  8. Levels of the world. Limits and extensions of Nicolai hartmann’s and Werner heisenberg’s conceptions of levels.Gregor Schiemann - 2019 - HORIZON. Studies in Phenomenology 8 (1):103-122.
    The conception that the world can be represented as a system of levels of being can be traced back to the beginnings of European philosophy and has lost little of its plausibility in the meantime. One of the important modern conceptions of levels was developed by Nicolai Hartmann. It exhibits remarkable similarities and contrasts with the classification of the real developed by Werner Heisenberg in his paper Ordnung der Wirklichkeit (Order of Reality). In my contribution I will introduce these two (...)
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  9. Ditching Dependence and Determination: Or, How to Wear the Crazy Trousers.Michael Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2021 - Synthese 198 (1):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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  10. Platon im nachmetaphysischen Zeitalter.Gregor Schiemann & Dieter Mersch (eds.) - 2006 - Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
    Die Beschäftigung mit Platon hat eine lange Geschichte, Rezeptionen seines Denkens sind so prägend für die Philosophiegeschichte geworden, dass diese verständlicherweise zuweilen als eine Sammlung von Fußnoten zu seinem Werk begriffen wurde. Das gilt besonders für einen durchgängigen metaphysischen Zug des abendländischen Denkens, ein grundsätzliches Ordnungsmodell aus der Antike, das, christlich gewendet, die Theoriebildung bis in unsere Tage fundiert. Aber mit einer Reihe anderer Gewissheiten ist auch dieser erfolgreiche Platonismus Gegenstand der Kritik geworden. Kann und soll man den metaphysischen Platon (...)
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