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Metaphysical Causation

Noûs 52 (4):723-751 (2018)

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  1. Grounding Pluralism: Why and How.Kevin Richardson - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (6):1399-1415.
    Grounding pluralism is the view that there are multiple kinds of grounding. In this essay, I motivate and defend an explanation-theoretic view of grounding pluralism. Specifically, I argue that there are two kinds of grounding: why-grounding—which tells us why things are the case—and how-grounding—which tells us how things are the case.
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  • Is Backing Grounding?Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2020 - Ratio 33 (3):129-137.
    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 (...)
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  • Four Questions of Iterated Grounding.David Mark Kovacs - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (2):341-364.
    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 (...)
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  • Introduction: The Character of Physicalism.Andreas Elpidorou - 2018 - Topoi 37 (3):435-455.
    The aim of this editorial introduction is twofold. First, Sects. 1–8 offer a critical introduction to the metaphysical character of physicalism. In those sections, I present and evaluate different ways in which proponents of physicalism have made explicit the metaphysical dependence that is said to hold between the non-physical and the physical. Some of these accounts are found to be problematic; others are shown to be somewhat more promising. In the end, some important lessons are drawn and different options for (...)
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  • Grounding at a distance.Sam Baron, Kristie Miller & Jonathan Tallant - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3373-3390.
    What distinguishes causation from grounding? One suggestion is that causation, but not grounding, occurs over time. Recently, however, counterexamples to this simple temporal criterion have been offered. In this paper, we situate the temporal criterion within a broader framework that focuses on two aspects: locational overlapping in space and time and the presence of intermediaries in space and time. We consider, and reject, the idea that the difference between grounding and causation is that grounding can occur without intermediaries. We go (...)
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  • Derivatives and Consciousness.David Builes - 2020 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 27 (9-10):87-103.
    Many philosophers of physics think that physical rates of change, like velocity or acceleration in classical physics, are extrinsic. Many philosophers of mind think that phenomenal properties, which characterize what it’s like to be an agent at a time, are intrinsic. I will argue that these two views can’t both be true. Given that these two views are in tension, we face an explanatory challenge. Why should there be any interesting connection between these physical quantities and consciousness in the first (...)
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  • Space Emergence in Contemporary Physics: Why We Do Not Need Fundamentality, Layers of Reality and Emergence.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2018 - Disputatio 10 (49):71-95.
    ‘Space does not exist fundamentally: it emerges from a more fundamental non-spatial structure.’ This intriguing claim appears in various research programs in contemporary physics. Philosophers of physics tend to believe that this claim entails either that spacetime does not exist, or that it is derivatively real. In this article, I introduce and defend a third metaphysical interpretation of the claim: reductionism about space. I argue that, as a result, there is no need to subscribe to fundamentality, layers of reality and (...)
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  • The Causal Metaphor Account of Metaphysical Explanation.Jonathan L. Shaheen - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (3):553-578.
    This paper argues that the semantic facts about ‘because’ are best explained via a metaphorical treatment of metaphysical explanation that treats causal explanation as explanation par excellence. Along the way, it defends a commitment to a unified causal sense of ‘because’ and offers a proprietary explanation of grounding skepticism. With the causal metaphor account of metaphysical explanation on the table, an extended discussion of the relationship between conceptual structure and metaphysics ends with a suggestion that the semantic facts about ‘because’ (...)
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  • Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics?Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (2):239-256.
    In the recent philosophy of explanation, a growing attention to and discussion of non-causal explanations has emerged, as there seem to be compelling examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences, in pure mathematics, and in metaphysics. I defend the claim that the counterfactual theory of explanation captures the explanatory character of both non-causal scientific and metaphysical explanations. According to the CTE, scientific and metaphysical explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I support (...)
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  • Explanatory Priority Monism.Isaac Wilhelm - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-21.
    Explanations are backed by many different relations: causation, grounding, and arguably others too. But why are these different relations capable of backing explanations? In virtue of what are they explanatory? In this paper, I propose and defend a monistic account of explanation-backing relations. On my account, there is a single relation which backs all cases of explanation, and which explains why those other relations are explanation-backing.
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  • The fundamental: Ungrounded or all-grounding?Stephan Leuenberger - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2647-2669.
    Fundamentality plays a pivotal role in discussions of ontology, supervenience, and possibility, and other key topics in metaphysics. However, there are two different ways of characterising the fundamental: as that which is not grounded, and as that which is the ground of everything else. I show that whether these two characterisations pick out the same property turns on a principle—which I call “Dichotomy”—that is of independent interest in the theory of ground: that everything is either fully grounded or not even (...)
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  • Presentism, Persistence and Trans-Temporal Dependence.Jonathan Tallant - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (9):1-12.
    My central thesis is that presentism is incompatible with all of the main theories of persistence: endurance, exdurance and perdurance.
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  • Metaphysical Explanations and the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation.Stefan Roski - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    According to an increasingly popular view among philosophers of science, both causal and non-causal explanations can be accounted for by a single theory: the counterfactual theory of explanation. A kind of non-causal explanation that has gained much attention recently but that this theory seems unable to account for are grounding explanations. Reutlinger (2017) has argued that, despite these appearances to the contrary, such explanations are covered by his version of the counterfactual theory. His idea is supported by recent work on (...)
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  • An account of truthmaking.Noël Blas Saenz - 2020 - Synthese 197 (8):3413-3435.
    In this paper, I both propose and discuss a novel account of truthmaking. I begin by showing what truthmaking is not: it is not grounding and it is not correspondence. I then show what truthmaking is by offering an account that appeals both to grounding and what I call ‘deep correspondence’. After I present the account and show that it is an account that unifies, I put it to work by showing how it can overcome an objection to truthmaking, how (...)
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  • Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
    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.
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  • Explaining Contingent Facts.Fatema Amijee - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    I argue against a principle that is widely taken to govern metaphysical explanation. This is the principle that no necessary facts can, on their own, explain a contingent fact. I then show how this result makes available a response to a longstanding objection to the Principle of Sufficient Reason—the objection that the Principle of Sufficient Reason entails that the world could not have been otherwise.
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  • How Does God Know That 2 + 2 = 4?Andrew Brenner - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-16.
    Sometimes theists wonder how God's beliefs track particular portions of reality, e.g. contingent states of affairs, or facts regarding future free actions. In this article I sketch a general model for how God's beliefs track reality. God's beliefs track reality in much the same way that propositions track reality, namely via grounding. Just as the truth values of true propositions are generally or always grounded in their truthmakers, so too God's true beliefs are grounded in the subject matters of those (...)
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  • Grounding Is Not Causation.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):21-38.
    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.
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  • Laws for Metaphysical Explanation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2017 - Philosophical Issues 27 (1):302-321.
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  • A Causal Semantics of IS Generics.Robert van Rooij & Katrin Schulz - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (2):269-295.
    The felicity, or acceptability, of IS generics, i.e. generic sentences with indefinite singulars, is considerably more restricted compared to BP generics, generics with bare plurals. The goal of this paper is to account for the limited felicity of IS generics compared to BP generics, on the one hand, while preserving the close similarity between the two types of generics, on the other. We do so by proposing a causal analysis of IS generics, and show that this corresponds closely with a (...)
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  • Grounding: It’s (Probably) All in the Head.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3059-3081.
    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 (...)
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  • In Virtue Of: Determination, Dependence, and Metaphysically Opaque Grounding.Henrik Rydéhn - 2019 - Dissertation, Uppsala University
    This dissertation investigates grounding, the relation of non-causal determination whereby one fact obtains in virtue of some other fact or facts. Although considerations of grounding have been central throughout Western philosophy, the last 15-20 years have seen a renaissance of systematic work on grounding in analytic philosophy. The aim of the dissertation is to contribute to our understanding of the nature of grounding and its relation to other central phenomena in metaphysics. -/- Chapter 1 of the dissertation provides a brief (...)
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  • The Problem of Granularity for Scientific Explanation.David Kinney - 2019 - Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
    This dissertation aims to determine the optimal level of granularity for the variables used in probabilistic causal models. These causal models are useful for generating explanations in a number of scientific contexts. In Chapter 1, I argue that there is rarely a unique level of granularity at which a given phenomenon can be causally explained, thereby rejecting various causal exclusion arguments. In Chapter 2, I consider several recent proposals for measuring the explanatory power of causal explanations, and show that these (...)
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  • On the Dispensability of Grounding: Ground-Breaking Work on Metaphysical Explanation.James Norton - 2017 - Dissertation, The University of Sydney
    Primitive, unanalysable grounding relations are considered by many to be indispensable constituents of the metaphysician’s toolkit. Yet, as a primitive ontological posit, grounding must earn its keep by explaining features of the world not explained by other tools already at our disposal. Those who defend grounding contend that grounding is required to play two interconnected roles: accounting for widespread intuitions regarding what is ontologically prior to what, and forming the backbone of a theory of metaphysical explanation, in much the same (...)
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  • Kind‐Dependent Grounding.Alex Moran - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (3):359-390.
    Are grounding claims fully general in character? If an object a is F in virtue of being G, does it follow that anything that’s G is F for that reason? According to the thesis of Weak Formality, the answer here is ‘yes’. In this paper, however, I argue that there is philosophical utility in rejecting this thesis. More exactly, I argue that two currently unresolved problems in contemporary metaphysics can be dealt with if we hold that there can be cases (...)
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  • Dependence relations in general relativity.Antonio Vassallo - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-28.
    The paper discusses from a metaphysical standpoint the nature of the dependence relation underpinning the talk of mutual action between material and spatiotemporal structures in general relativity. It is shown that the standard analyses of dependence in terms of causation or grounding are ill-suited for the general relativistic context. Instead, a non-standard analytical framework in terms of structural equation modeling is exploited, which leads to the conclusion that the kind of dependence encoded in the Einstein field equations is a novel (...)
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  • Grounding-Mechanical Explanation.Kelly Trogdon - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1289-1309.
    Characterization of a form of explanation involving grounding on the model of mechanistic causal explanation.
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  • Grounding and the Argument From Explanatoriness.David Kovacs - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):2927-2952.
    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 (...)
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  • Structuring Reality.Naomi Margaret Claire Thompson - unknown
    This thesis explores attempts to characterise the structure of reality. Three notions stand out: Lewisian naturalness, Sider’s ‘structure’, and grounding, where the latter has become the most popular way to characterise the structure of reality in the contemporary literature. I argue that none of these notions, as they are currently understood, are suited for limning the metaphysical structure of reality. In the first part of the thesis I argue that, by the lights of the relevant theories, both naturalness and structure (...)
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  • Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics?Alexander Reutlinger - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-18.
    In the recent philosophy of explanation, a growing attention to and discussion of non-causal explanations has emerged, as there seem to be compelling examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences, in pure mathematics, and in metaphysics. I defend the claim that the counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE) captures the explanatory character of both non-causal scientific and metaphysical explanations. According to the CTE, scientific and metaphysical explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I (...)
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  • What is Wrong with Self-Grounding?David Kovacs - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (6):1157-1180.
    Many philosophers embrace grounding, supposedly a central notion of metaphysics. Grounding is widely assumed to be irreflexive, but recently a number of authors have questioned this assumption: according to them, it is at least possible that some facts ground themselves. The primary purpose of this paper is to problematize the notion of self-grounding through the theoretical roles usually assigned to grounding. The literature typically characterizes grounding as at least playing two central theoretical roles: a structuring role and an explanatory role. (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Machian Frame-Dragging.Antonio Vassallo & Carl Hoefer - 2019 - In Claus Beisbart, Tilman Sauer & Christian Wüthrich (eds.), Thinking About Space and Time. Basel: Birkhäuser.
    The paper investigates the kind of dependence relation that best portrays Machian frame-dragging in general relativity. The question is tricky because frame-dragging relates local inertial frames to distant distributions of matter in a time-independent way, thus establishing some sort of non-local link between the two. For this reason, a plain causal interpretation of frame-dragging faces huge challenges. The paper will shed light on the issue by using a generalized structural equation model analysis in terms of manipulationist counterfactuals recently applied in (...)
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  • The Cresting Wave: A New Moving Spotlight Theory.Kristie Miller - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):94-122.
    One argument for the moving spotlight theory is that it better explains certain aspects of our temporal phenomenology than does any static theory of time. Call this the argument from passage phenomenology. In this paper it is argued that insofar as moving spotlight theorists take this to be a sound argument they ought embrace a new version of the moving spotlight theory according to which the moving spotlight is a cresting wave of causal efficacy. On this view it is more (...)
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  • Ambiguity and Explanation.Jonathan L. Shaheen - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (8):839-866.
    This paper presents evidence that ‘because’ is importantly ambiguous between two closely related senses covering what are usually called causal explanations, on the one hand, and grounding or metaphysical explanations, on the other hand. To this end, it introduces the lexical categories of monosemy, polysemy and homonymy; describes a test for polysemy; and discusses the results of the test when applied to ‘because’. It also shows how to understand so-called hybrid explanations in light of the semantic facts established by the (...)
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  • The Essence of Grounding.Justin Zylstra - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):5137-5152.
    I develop a reduction of grounding to essence. My approach is to think about the relation between grounding and essence on the model of a certain conceptof existential dependence. I extend this concept of existential dependence in a coupleof ways and argue that these extensions provide a reduction of grounding to essenceif we use sorted variables that range over facts and take it that for a fact to obtain is forit to exist. I then use the account to resolve various (...)
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  • Ground by Law.Gideon Rosen - 2017 - Philosophical Issues 27 (1):279-301.
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  • Supervenience.Karen Bennett & Brian McLaughlin - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Grounding and Metaphysical Explanation: It’s Complicated.Anna-Sofia Maurin - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1573-1594.
    Grounding theorists insist that grounding and explanation are intimately related. This claim could be understood as saying either that grounding ‘inherits’ its properties from explanation or it could be interpreted as saying that grounding plays an important—possibly an indispensable—role in metaphysical explanation. Or both. I argue that saying that grounding ‘inherits’ its properties from explanation can only be justified if grounding is explanatory by nature, but that this view is untenable. We ought therefore to be ‘separatists’ and view grounding and (...)
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  • In Defense of the Disunity of Grounding.Jon Erling Litland - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (2):97-108.
    Fine (2012) is a pluralist about grounding. He holds that there are three fundamentally distinct notions of grounding: metaphysical, normative, and natural. Berker (2017) argues for monism on the grounds that the pluralist cannot account for certain principles describing how the distinct notions of grounding interact. This paper defends pluralism. By building on work by Fine (2010) and Litland (2015) I show how the pluralist can systematically account for Berker's interaction principles.
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  • Natural Necessity: An Introductory Guide for Ontologists.Fumiaki Toyoshima - forthcoming - Applied Ontology:1-29.
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  • Laws and Their Instances.Nina Emery - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1535-1561.
    I present an argument for the view that laws ground their instances. I then outline two important consequences that follow if we accept the conclusion of this argument. First, the claim that laws ground their instances threatens to undermine a prominent recent attempt to make sense of the explanatory power of Humean laws by distinguishing between metaphysical and scientific explanation. And second, the claim that laws ground their instances gives rise to a novel argument against the view that grounding relations (...)
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  • The ‘Power’-Ful Trinity.Ben Page - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (4):155-180.
    This paper proposes a new orthodox Latin Trinitarian model of the Trinity, through employing current work from the metaphysics of powers. It outlines theses defended within the contemporary powers literature that form the backbone of the account and then shows how they can be combined to provide an orthodox metaphysics of the Trinity. Having done this it addresses a further element required for orthodoxy, the ontological priority of the Father, and then notes a particular benefit that comes along with the (...)
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  • The Philosophy of Filioque.Nikk Effingham - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (3):297-312.
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  • God From God: The Essential Dependence Model of Eternal Generation.Mark Makin - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (3):377-394.
    According to the doctrine of eternal generation, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father. Although the doctrine is enshrined in the Creed of Nicaea and has been affirmed by Christians for nearly 17,000 years, many Protestants have recently rejected the doctrine. Eternal generation, its detractors contend, is both philosophically and theologically suspect. In this article, I propose a model of eternal generation and demonstrate how it avoids standard philosophical and theological objections. Eternal generation, I argue, can be understood as (...)
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  • Law-Determination as Grounding: A Common Grounding Framework for Jurisprudence.Samuele Chilovi & George Pavlakos - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (1):53-76.
    Law being a derivative feature of reality, it exists in virtue of more fundamental things, upon which it depends. This raises the question of what is the relation of dependence that holds between law and its more basic determinants. The primary aim of this paper is to argue that grounding is that relation. We first make a positive case for this claim, and then we defend it from the potential objection that the relevant relation is rather rational determination (Greenberg 2004, (...)
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  • Causation: A Functional Perspective.Fumiaki Toyoshima, Riichiro Mizoguchi & Mitsuru Ikeda - 2019 - Applied Ontology 14 (1):43-78.
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  • Constitutive Explanation.Shamik Dasgupta - 2017 - Philosophical Issues 27 (1):74-97.
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  • Metaphysical Explanation: The Kitcher Picture.Sam Baron & James Norton - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    This paper offers a new account of metaphysical explanation. The account is modelled on Kitcher’s (1981/1989) unificationist approach to scientific explanation. We begin, in Section Two, by briefly introducing the notion of metaphysical explanation and outlining the target of analysis. After that, we introduce a unificationist account of metaphysical explanation (Section Three) before arguing that such an account is capable of capturing four core features of metaphysical explanations: (i) irreflexivity, (ii) non-monotonicity, (iii) asymmetry and (iv) relevance. Since the unificationist theory (...)
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  • Supervenience.Brian McLaughlin - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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