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James Norton
University of Sydney (PhD)
  1.  58
    Metaphysical Explanation: The Kitcher Picture.Sam Baron & James Norton - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    This paper offers a new account of metaphysical explanation. The account is modelled on Kitcher’s (1981/1989) unificationist approach to scientific explanation. We begin, in Section Two, by briefly introducing the notion of metaphysical explanation and outlining the target of analysis. After that, we introduce a unificationist account of metaphysical explanation (Section Three) before arguing that such an account is capable of capturing four core features of metaphysical explanations: (i) irreflexivity, (ii) non-monotonicity, (iii) asymmetry and (iv) relevance. Since the unificationist theory (...)
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  2.  67
    Ditching Dependence and Determination: Or, How to Wear the Crazy Trousers.Michael J. Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Synthese.
    This paper defends Flatland—the view that there exist neither determination nor dependence relations, and that everything is therefore fundamental—from the objection from explanatory inefficacy. According to that objection, Flatland is unattractive because it is unable to explain either the appearance as of there being determination relations, or the appearance as of there being dependence relations. We show how the Flatlander can meet the first challenge by offering four strategies—reducing, eliminating, untangling and omnizing—which, jointly, explain the appearance as of there being (...)
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  3. Grounding: It’s All in the Head.Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3059-3081.
    In this paper we provide a psychological explanation for ‘grounding observations’—observations that are thought to provide evidence that there exists a relation of ground. Our explanation does not appeal to the presence of any such relation. Instead, it appeals to certain evolved cognitive mechanisms, along with the traditional modal relations of supervenience, necessitation and entailment. We then consider what, if any, metaphysical conclusions we can draw from the obtaining of such an explanation, and, in particular, if it tells us anything (...)
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  4. If Time Travel to Our Location is Possible, We Do Not Live in a Branching Universe.James Norton - 2018 - Analysis 78 (2):260-266.
    This paper argues for the following disjunction: either we do not live in a world with a branching temporal structure, or backwards time travel is nomologically impossible, given the initial state of the universe, or backwards time travel to our space-time location is impossible given large-scale facts about space and time. A fortiori, if backwards time travel to our location is possible, we do not live in a branching universe.
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  5. Is Grounding a Hyperintensional Phenomenon?Michael Duncan, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2017 - Analytic Philosophy 58 (4):297-329.
    It is widely thought that grounding is a hyperintensional phenomenon. Unfortunately, the term ‘hyperintensionality’ has been doing double-duty, picking out two distinct phenomena. This paper clears up this conceptual confusion. We call the two resulting notions hyperintensionalityGRND and hyperintensionalityTRAD. While it is clear that grounding is hyperintensionalGRND, the interesting question is whether it is hyperintensionalTRAD. We argue that given well-accepted constraints on the logical form of grounding, to wit, that grounding is irreflexive and asymmetric, grounding is hyperintensionalTRAD only if one (...)
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  6. A Psychologistic Theory of Metaphysical Explanation.Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    Many think that sentences about what metaphysically explains what are true iff there exist grounding relations. This suggests that sceptics about grounding should be error theorists about metaphysical explanation. We think there is a better option: a theory of metaphysical explanation which offers truth conditions for claims about what metaphysically explains what that are not couched in terms of grounding relations, but are instead couched in terms of, inter alia, psychological facts. We do not argue that our account is superior (...)
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  7. Groundless Truth.Sam Baron, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (2):175-195.
    We defend two claims: (1) if one is attracted to a strong non-maximalist view about truthmaking, then it is natural to construe this as the view that there exist fundamental truths; (2) despite considerable aversion to fundamental truths, there is as yet no viable independent argument against them. That is, there is no argument against the existence of fundamental truths that is independent of any more specific arguments against the ontology accepted by the strong non-maximalist. Thus there is no argument (...)
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  8.  14
    On the Dispensability of Grounding: Ground-Breaking Work on Metaphysical Explanation.James Norton - 2017 - Dissertation, The University of Sydney
    Primitive, unanalysable grounding relations are considered by many to be indispensable constituents of the metaphysician’s toolkit. Yet, as a primitive ontological posit, grounding must earn its keep by explaining features of the world not explained by other tools already at our disposal. Those who defend grounding contend that grounding is required to play two interconnected roles: accounting for widespread intuitions regarding what is ontologically prior to what, and forming the backbone of a theory of metaphysical explanation, in much the same (...)
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  9. Much Ado About Aboutness.Sam Baron, Reginald Mary Chua, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Strong non-maximalism holds that some truths require no ontological ground of any sort. Strong non-maximalism allows one to accept that some propositions are true without being forced to endorse any corresponding ontological commitments. We show that there is a version of truthmaker theory available—anti-aboutness truthmaking—that enjoys the dialectical benefits of the strong non-maximalist’s position. According to anti-aboutness truthmaking, all truths require grounds, but a proposition need not be grounded in the very thing(s) that the proposition is about. We argue that (...)
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