SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Metaphysically Opaque Grounding and Constitutive Metaphysical Explanations
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

Recent metaphysics has seen a great deal of interest in grounding - a relation of non-causal determination whereby a fact obtains in virtue of the obtaining of some other fact or facts. There has been a great deal of controversy over the nature of grounding itself, but one recurring and largely unquestioned theme in much of the literature is that grounding is, in some sense, a particularly intimate metaphysical relation. Thus, for example, Kit Fine calls grounding "the ultimate form of explanation." An arguably related idea is that grounding has some necessary connection with the most core features of things, such as their essences or natures - those features that constitute the identities of things and make them what they are.

In this talk, I will be concerned with these ideas about how grounding works. I argue that certain interesting and widespread philosophical views are implicitly committed to a notion of what I call "metaphysically opaque grounding" (or just "opaque grounding") - grounding that constitutes a less intimate connection than what is commonly thought, among other things because it does not go together with any connections of essence, reduction or "consisting in". I illustrate the importance of the notion of metaphysically opaque grounding by arguing that if there are cases of opaque grounding, the idea (associated, most notably, with Kit Fine) that grounding is constitutive explanation cannot be right. The picture that emerges suggests instead that if there are cases of opaque grounding, grounding explanation at least sometimes looks much more like the more mundane relation of causal explanation than like the "ultimate form of explanation" envisaged by Fine and others.

Chair: Bogdan Andrei Dumitrescu
Time: 17:00-17:30, 12 September 2018 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.006

Henrik Rydéhn 
(Uppsala University, Sweden)

Ph.D. student in Theoretical Philosophy at Uppsala University, specializing in metaphysics.

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