, Volume 79, Issue 1, pp 227–240 | Cite as

From Grounding to Supervenience?

  • Stephan LeuenbergerEmail author
Original Article


The concept of supervenience and a regimented concept of grounding are often taken to provide rival explications of pre-theoretical concepts of dependence and determination. Friends of grounding typically point out that supervenience claims do not entail corresponding grounding claims. Every fact supervenes on itself, but is not grounded in itself, and the fact that a thing exists supervenes on the fact that its singleton exists, but is not grounded in it. Common lore has it, though, that grounding claims do entail corresponding supervenience claims. In this article, I show that this assumption is problematic. On one way of understanding it, the corresponding supervenience claim is just an entailment claim under a different name. On another way of understanding it, the corresponding claim is a distinctive supervenience claim, but its specification gives rise to what I call the "reference type problem": to associate the classes of facts that are the relata of grounding with the types of facts that are the relata of supervenience. However it is understood, supervenience rules out prima facie possibilities: alien realizers, blockers, heterogeneous realizers, floaters, and heterogeneous blockers. Instead of being rival explications of one and the same pre-theoretical concept, grounding and supervenience may be complementary concepts capturing different aspects of determination and dependence.


Actual World Counterpart Theorist Global Supervenience Unit Class Humean Supervenience 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy, School of HumanitiesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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