Grounding Explanations

Philosophers' Imprint 13 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer, but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views face well-known problems. A plausible alternative is that layered structure is to be explicated by appeal to explanations of a certain sort, termed / grounding explanations/. Grounding explanations tell us what obtains in virtue of what. Unfortunately, the use of grounding explanations to articulate the layered conception faces a problem, which I call /the collapse/. The collapse turns on the question of how to ground the facts stated by the explanations themselves. In this paper I make a suggestion about how to ground explanations that avoids the collapse. Briefly, the suggestion is that the fact stated by a grounding explanation is grounded in its /explanans/

Author's Profile

Louis deRosset
University of Vermont

Analytics

Added to PP
2012-07-23

Downloads
1,243 (#4,714)

6 months
49 (#19,366)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?