Infinite Descent

In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York: Routledge. pp. 244-58 (2020)
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Once one accepts that certain things metaphysically depend upon, or are metaphysically explained by, other things, it is natural to begin to wonder whether these chains of dependence or explanation must come to an end. This essay surveys the work that has been done on this issue—the issue of grounding and infinite descent. I frame the discussion around two questions: (1) What is infinite descent of ground? and (2) Is infinite descent of ground possible? In addressing the second question, I will consider a number of arguments that have been made for and against the possibility of infinite descent of ground. When relevant, I connect the discussion to two important views about the way reality can be structured by grounding: metaphysical foundationalism and metaphysical infinitism.

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Scott Dixon
Lawrence University


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