The grounding conception of governance

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

According to the governing conception of the laws of nature, laws, in some sense, determine concrete goings-on. Just how to understand the sort of determination at play in governance is, however, a substantial question. One potential answer to this question, which has recently received some attention, is that laws govern by grounding what happens in the concrete world. If this account succeeded, it would show that governance can be understood in terms of an independently motivated and widely accepted notion. Thus far, though, the grounding conception of governance has not been developed or evaluated in detail. In this paper, I fill this gap by mapping out and evaluating various possible ways of developing this conception of governance. My main conclusion is that the grounding conception runs into serious difficulties in trying to capture the key idea that governing laws determine the distribution of fundamental property instances.

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Ashley Coates
University of Witwatersrand

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