Grounding, Necessity, and Relevance

Philosophical Studies:1-22 (2023)
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Grounding necessitarianism (GN) is the view that full grounds necessitate what they ground. Although GN has been rather popular among philosophers, it faces important counterexamples: For instance, A=[Socrates died] fully grounds C=[Xanthippe became a widow]. However, A fails to necessitate C: A could have obtained together with B=[Socrates and Xanthippe were never married], without C obtaining. In many cases, the debate essentially reduces to whether A indeed fully grounds C – as the contingentist claims – or if instead C is fully grounded in A+, namely A plus some supplementary fact S (e.g. [Xanthippe was married to Socrates]) – as the necessitarian claims. Both sides typically agree that A+ necessitates C, while A does not; they disagree on whether A or A+ fully grounds C. This paper offers a novel defence of the claim that, in these typical cases, unlike A+, A fails to fully ground C – thereby bringing further support to GN. First and foremost, unlike A+, A fails to fully ground C because it fails to contain just what is relevant to do so, in two distinct senses – explanatory and generative relevance. Second, going for A, rather than A+, as a full ground undermines not just grounding necessitarianism, but modally weaker views which even contingentists may want to preserve.

Author's Profile

Salim Hirèche
University of Geneva (PhD)


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