SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

SOPhiA ToolsDE-pageEN-page

Programme - Talk

Source of Reality/Causal Capacity: Outside of the Priority Chain?
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

I will consider two views: metaphysical foundationalism (there are fundamental entities) and metaphysical infinitism (there are infinite chains of ontological dependence). I will talk about an argument for the existence of a fundamental level. There is a foundationalist intuition that there must be a source of reality (Schaffer, 2009, 2010, 2016) or causal capacity (Trogdon, 2017) because a grounded entity inherits its reality or causal capacity from its ground. For Schaffer (2016, p.95), ''a regress counts as vicious if and only if there is an endless chain of dependency with transference of the relevant status''. This sort of transference leads to the need for a source. In the grounding case, there is such a transference of reality: the grounded entity exists in virtue of its grounds. ''That is why a source of reality is needed, in order for there to be anything to transfer'' (p.96).

I find this argument unpersuasive as the source of reality or causal capacity of an infinite chain can be the cause of it. Consider the causal inheritance premise that was accepted by Trogdon. ''The causal inheritance premise: necessarily, if A is nonfundamental and has causal capacity then A inherits its causal capacity from whatever fully grounds it'' (Trogdon, 2018, p.192).

I do not think that it is necessary that A inherits its causal capacity from whatever fully grounds it. Instead, I believe that the following conditional is true: if A is nonfundamental and has causal capacity then A inherits its causal capacity from its cause or its full ground. This conditional also satisfies the foundationalist intuition that there must be a source of reality or causal capacity. The cause of A (B) can be its source, and the explanation of why A is real and has a certain causal capacity can end there.

The reality or causal capacity of a grounded object can be metaphysically explained by its full ground. But I believe that it can also be metaphysically explained by its cause. These are two different explanations and I don't think that the grounding explanation is necessarily needed. One of them is sufficient to explain everything about the reality or causal capacity of a grounded object while avoiding infinite regress. I will argue that if we have a causal explanation in hand, there is no need for an additional grounding explanation in terms of a fundamental entity.



Bibliography

___Schaffer, J. (2009). On What Grounds What. In D. Chalmers & D. Manley & R. Wasserman (Eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology (pp. 347-383). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

___Schaffer, J. (2010). Monism: The priority of the whole. Philosophical Review, 119(1), 31-76.

___Schaffer, J. (2016). Grounding in the image of causation. Philosophical studies, 173(1), 49-100.

___Trogdon, K. (2018). Inheritance arguments for fundamentality. In R. Bliss & G. Priest (Eds.), Reality and its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality (pp. 182-198). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Chair:
Time: 16:00-16:30, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.003

Savvas Ioannou 
(University of St Andrews, United Kingdom)

Savvas Ioannou is a Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. He is a qualified teacher and a member of the Arche Philosophical Research Centre (St Andrews). His research interests are metaphysics, philosophy of mind, Philosophy for Children (P4C), and moral education.

Testability and Meaning deco