What is Wrong with Self-Grounding?

Erkenntnis 83 (6):1157-1180 (2018)
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Many philosophers embrace grounding, supposedly a central notion of metaphysics. Grounding is widely assumed to be irreflexive, but recently a number of authors have questioned this assumption: according to them, it is at least possible that some facts ground themselves. The primary purpose of this paper is to problematize the notion of self-grounding through the theoretical roles usually assigned to grounding. The literature typically characterizes grounding as at least playing two central theoretical roles: a structuring role and an explanatory role. Once we carefully spell out what playing these roles includes, however, we find that any notion of grounding that isn’t irreflexive fails to play these roles when they are interpreted narrowly, and is redundant for playing them when they are interpreted more broadly. The upshot is that no useful notion of grounding can allow a fact to ground itself.

Author's Profile

David Mark Kovacs
Tel Aviv University


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