Grounding Orthodoxy and the Layered Conception

In Ricki Leigh Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality. Oxford University Press. pp. 37-49 (2018)
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Ground offers the hope of vindicating and illuminating an classic philosophical idea: the layered conception, according to which reality is structured by relations of dependence, with physical phenomena on the bottom, upon which chemistry, then biology, and psychology reside. However, ground can only make good on this promise if it is appropriately formally behaved. The paradigm of good formal behavior can be found in the currently dominant grounding orthodoxy, which holds that ground is transitive, antisymmetric, irreflexive, and foundational. However, heretics have recently challenged the orthodoxy. In this paper, I examine ground’s ability to vindicate the layered conception upon various relaxations of the orthodox assumptions. I argue that highly unorthodox views of ground can still vindicate the layered conception and that, in some ways, the heretical views enable ground to better serve as a guide to reality’s layering than do orthodox views of ground.

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Gabriel Rabin
New York University, Abu Dhabi


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