Ontological Dependence: An Opinionated Survey

In Benjamin Schnieder, Miguel Hoeltje & Alex Steinberg (eds.), Varieties of Dependence: Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence (Basic Philosophical Concepts). Philosophia Verlag. pp. 31-64 (2013)
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This essay provides an opinionated survey of some recent developments in the literature on ontological dependence. Some of the most popular definitions of ontological dependence are formulated in modal terms; others in non-modal terms (e.g., in terms of the explanatory connective, ‘because’, or in terms of a non-modal conception of essence); some (viz., the existential construals of ontological dependence) emphasise requirements that must be met in order for an entity to exist; others (viz., the essentialist construals) focus on conditions that must be satisfied in order for an entity to be the very entity it is at each time at which it exists; some are rigid, in the sense that they concern a relation between particular entities; others are generic, in the sense that they involve only a relation between an entity and some entities or other, which bear certain characteristics. I identify three potential measures of success with respect to which these different definitions of ontological dependence can be evaluated and consider the question of how well they in fact meet these desiderata. I end by noting that certain challenges face even the most promising essentialist construals of ontological dependence.

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Kathrin Koslicki
Université de Neuchâtel


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