SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Grounding and metaphysical explanation: Is it really that complicated?
(Metaphysics/Ontology, English)

The notion of grounding has been sailing the stormy sea of metaphysics for many years now and it seems that despite sceptical winds the ship is reaching port. The reason, proponents claim, is that grounding connections are distinctively explanatory. Unionists argue that grounding is itself a form of metaphysical explanation, whereas separatists hold that it is the relation of metaphysical determination that is uniquely apt to back up said cases of explanation. Yet, in a recent line of criticism Anna-Sofia Maurin (2019) has argued that the grounding ship faces a dilemma that prevents it from mooring:



Assuming that grounding connections are fully objective and that explanations are typically encoded as having both a representational and a worldly component: Either unionism is true, and we must account for the abnormal non-epistemic nature of grounding-explanations, which seems unfeasible; or separatism is true, and we must explain what makes grounding so special that it enables it to account for metaphysical explanations in a way that no other determinative relation can, which seems difficult. In either case, it seems as if the boat is leaking.



I explore this tension and argue that while revealing, the arguments provided fail to close the explanatory path in any horn of the dilemma. First, because the objections of explanatory inaccessibility and epistemic constraints against unionism fail, since there are at least two philosophically tenable positions that the grounding theorist can articulate. Second, because, contrary to what is objected, separatism can unproblematically model grounding explanatoriness in analogy with causation and moreover, no principled reason has been given for thinking that non-grounding metaphysicians could always dispense with the grounding relation in accounting for cases of metaphysical explanation.


Chair: Youssef Aguisoul
Time: 14:40-15:10, 07 September 2022 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.006

Markel Kortabarria 
(Universitat de Barcelona, Spain)



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