pp 1–17 | Cite as

Grounding Pluralism: Why and How

  • Kevin RichardsonEmail author
Original Research


Grounding pluralism is the view that there are multiple kinds of grounding. In this essay, I motivate and defend an explanation-theoretic view of grounding pluralism. Specifically, I argue that there are two kinds of grounding: why-grounding—which tells us why things are the case—and how-grounding—which tells us how things are the case.



Thanks to Stephen Yablo, Brad Skow, Jack Spencer, Sally Haslanger, Kate Vredenburgh, Matthias Jenny, Jon Litland, the anonymous reviewers, and audiences at MIT and the 2017 Central APA for their feedback on various versions of this paper.


  1. Armstrong, D. M. (1983). What is a law of nature?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Audi, P. (2012). Grounding: Toward a theory of the in-virtue-of relation. Journal of Philosophy, 109(12), 685–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, K. (2017). Making things up. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berker, S. (2018). The unity of grounding. Mind, 127(507), 729–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bromberger, S. (1993). On what we know we don’t know: Explanation, theory, linguistics, and how questions shape them. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cameron, M. A. (2015). Is ground said-in-many-ways? Studia Philosophica Estonica, 7(2), 29–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dasgupta, S. (2017). Constitutive explanation. Philosophical Issues, 27(1), 74–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. deRosset, L. (2013). Grounding explanations. Philosophers’ Imprint, 13(7), 1–26.Google Scholar
  9. Fine, K. (2001). The question of realism. Philosophers’ Imprint, 1(2), 1–30.Google Scholar
  10. Fine, K. (2012). Guide to ground. In F. Correia & B. Schnieder (Eds.), Metaphysical grounding (pp. 37–80). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fine, K. (2017a). A theory of truthmaker content I: Conjunction, disjunction and negation. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 46(6), 625–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fine, K. (2017b). A theory of truthmaker content II: Subject-matter, common content, remainder and ground. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 46(6), 675–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Griffith, A. M. (2014). Truthmaking and grounding. Inquiry, 57(2), 196–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Griffith, A. M. (2018). Social construction: Big-G grounding, small-G realization. Philosophical Studies, 175(1), 241–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jaworski, W. (2009). The logic of how-questions. Synthese, 166(1), 133–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kearns, K. (2003). Durative achievements and individual-level predicates on events. Linguistics and Philosophy, 26(5), 595–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Koslicki, K. (2015). The coarse-grainedness of grounding. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 2015, 306–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kovacs, D. M. (2017). Grounding and the argument from explanatoriness. Philosophical Studies, 174(12), 2927–2952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Krämer, S., & Roski, S. (2017). Difference-making grounds. Philosophical Studies, 174(5), 1191–1215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leuenberger, S. (2014). Grounding and necessity. Inquiry, 57(2), 151–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Litland, J. E. (2013). On some counterexamples to the transitivity of grounding. Essays in Philosophy, 14(1), 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Makin, M. (2017). Rigid/non-rigid grounding and transitivity. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. Scholar
  23. Maurin, A.-S. (2018). Grounding and metaphysical explanation: It’s complicated. Philosophical Studies. Scholar
  24. Miller, K., & Norton, J. (2017). Grounding: It’s all in the head. Philosophical Studies, 174(12), 3059–3081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Naomi, T. (2016). Grounding and metaphysical explanation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 116(3), 395–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Raven, M. J. (2013). Is ground a strict partial order? American Philosophical Quarterly, 50(2), 191–199.Google Scholar
  27. Raven, M. J. (2015). Ground. Philosophy Compass, 10(5), 322–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rettler, B. (2017). Grounds and “grounds”. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 47, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. (2015). Grounding is not a strict order. Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 1(3), 517–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rosen, G. (2010). Metaphysical dependence: Grounding and reduction. In B. Hale & A. Hoffmann (Eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, logic, and epistemology (pp. 109–36). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Saebø, K. J. (2008). The structure of criterion predicates. Event Structures in Linguistic Form and Interpretation, 5, 127.Google Scholar
  32. Sæbø, K. J. (2015). How questions and the manner—method distinction. Synthese, 193, 1–26.Google Scholar
  33. Schaffer, J. (2009). On what grounds what. In D. Manley, D. J. Chalmers, & R. Wasserman (Eds.), Metametaphysics: New essays on the foundations of ontology (pp. 347–383). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Schaffer, J. (2012). Grounding, transitivity, and contrastivity. In F. Correia & B. Schnieder (Eds.), Grounding and explanation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Schaffer, J. (2016). Grounding in the image of causation. Philosophical Studies, 173(1), 49–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schnieder, B. (2006). Truth-making without truth-makers. Synthese, 152(1), 21–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Searle, J. R. (2001). Rationality in action. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  38. Skiles, A. (2015). Against grounding necessitarianism. Erkenntnis, 80(4), 717–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Street, S. (2010). What is constructivism in ethics and metaethics? Philosophy Compass, 5(5), 363–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tahko, T. E. (2013). Truth-grounding and transitivity. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, 2(4), 332–340.Google Scholar
  41. Thompson, N. (2018). Irrealism about grounding. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 82, 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Trogdon, K. (2013). An introduction to grounding. In M. Hoeltje, B. Schnieder, & A. Steinberg (Eds.), Varieties of dependence (pp. 97–122). Munich: Philosophia Verlag.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, A. (2016). Grounding entails counterpossible non-triviality. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 92(3), 1–12.Google Scholar
  44. Wilson, A. (2018). Metaphysical causation. Noûs, 52(4), 723–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wilson, J. (2014). No work for a theory of grounding. Inquiry, 57, 535–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yablo, S. (2014). Aboutness. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesNC State UniversityRaleighUSA

Personalised recommendations