Skeptical Doubts

In Michael J. Raven (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. London, UK: pp. 164-179 (2020)
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Abstract
This chapter reviews several varieties of grounding skepticism as well as responses that have been proposed by grounding enthusiasts to considerations raised by grounding skeptics. Grounding skeptics, as I conceive of them here, are theorists who belong to one of the following two schools of thought. “Old-school” grounding skeptics doubt the theoretical utility of the grounding idiom by denying one of its presuppositions, viz., that this notion is at least intelligible or coherent. “Second-generation” grounding skeptics call into question the theoretical utility of the grounding idiom for other reasons; their skeptical doubts tend to focus on one of the following three purported theoretical virtues grounding enthusiasts ascribe to their idiom: (i) its alleged power to unify an apparently heterogeneous collection of phenomena; (ii) its alleged power to capture and/or elucidate the distinction between the fundamental and the non-fundamental; or (iii) the alleged metaphysical (as opposed to mind-dependent, epistemic, or psychological) utility of grounding claims. Grounding enthusiasts have already formulated responses to many of the objections described in this chapter. At this point, however, it is fair to say that the state of the literature is still evolving, and no conclusive judgment can therefore be reached as of yet as to whether grounding enthusiasts or grounding skeptics have gained the upper hand in these debates. In the meantime, though, grounding skeptics continue to maintain that the classification of factual and/or nonfactual connections under the rubric of grounding does not really help us illuminate the nature of the connections at issue; instead, from the view of the grounding skeptic, we are better off studying these various connections separately and in their own right.
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