Essence and the Grounding Problem

In Reality Making. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 99-120 (2016)
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Pluralists about coincident entities say that distinct entities may be spatially coincident throughout their entire existence. The most pressing issue they face is the grounding problem. They say that coincident entities may differ in their persistence conditions and in the sortals they fall under. But how can they differ in these ways, given that they share all their microphysical properties? What grounds those differences, if not their microphysical properties? Do those differences depend only on the way we conceptualise those objects? Are they primitive facts about reality? Neither option is pleasant for the pluralist, but what else can she say? To respond to the grounding problem, the pluralist should first tell a story about what material objects are. If that story explains how the modal and sortal properties of objects are grounded, in a way that allows for differences between coincident objects, then she has a response to the problem. That is precisely my aim in this paper.

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Mark Jago
Nottingham University


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