Grounding Pluralism: Why and How

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    For monism, see Rosen (2010), Schaffer (2009), Audi (2012), Leuenberger (2014), Skiles (2015) and Raven (2013).

  2. 2.

    For pluralism, see Wilson (2014), Koslicki (2015), Fine (2012), Cameron (2015), Bennett (2017), Griffith (2014) and Rettler (2017).

  3. 3.

    For a survey on constructivism in metaethics, see Street (2010).

  4. 4.

    You could interpret Tye as making claims of full ground, but the resulting scenario will be more controversial than necessary, for the current argument.

  5. 5.

    See Fine (2001), Rosen (2010), Schaffer (2009), Audi (2012) and deRosset (2013).

  6. 6.

    See Fine (2012), Schaffer (2012), Rodriguez-Pereyra (2015), Tahko (2013) and Schnieder (2006).

  7. 7.

    Fine (2001), Rosen (2010), Schaffer (2009) and Audi (2012).

  8. 8.

    Raven (2015).

  9. 9.

    Naomi (2016), Thompson (2018), Miller and Norton (2017), Litland (2013) and Dasgupta (2017).

  10. 10.

    For separatists, see: Audi (2012), Schaffer (2012, 2016), Trogdon (2013) and Maurin (2018). Kovacs (2017) isn’t clearly a separatist but he is a critic of unionism.

  11. 11.

    For critiques of the general view that grounding should correspond to metaphysical explanation, see Kovacs (2017) and Maurin (2018). For an account where there are different kinds of grounding explanation but only one kind of grounding, see Krämer and Roski (2017).

  12. 12.

    Bromberger (1993).

  13. 13.

    Kearns (2003), Saebø (2008, 2015).

  14. 14.

    See Jaworski (2009) and Sæbø (2015) for discussion.

  15. 15.

    My language of ways of being true is not an endorsement of alethic pluralism—the view that there are multiple properties of truth. I only need the assumption that a proposition can be true in virtue of different entities.

  16. 16.

    For truthmaker theories of content, see: Yablo (2014) and Fine (2017a, b). The account I sketch is a simplified version of Fine (2017a, b)’s account of truthmaker content.

  17. 17.

    See Armstrong (1983) for this view.

  18. 18.

    See Schaffer (2012, 2016) for accounts of the contrastivity of grounding.

  19. 19.

    Schaffer (2012, 2016) takes this approach.

  20. 20.

    Berker (2018), for example, would not regard my theory as sufficiently pluralist, since the two kinds of grounding can be defined from a common source.

  21. 21.

    For this view, see Rettler (2017),Griffith (2014, 2018) and Bennett (2017).

References

  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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bennett, K. (2017). Making things up. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Berker, S. (2018). The unity of grounding. Mind, 127(507), 729–777.

    Article  Google 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Dasgupta, S. (2017). Constitutive explanation. Philosophical Issues, 27(1), 74–97.

    Article  Google 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.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Fine, K. (2017a). A theory of truthmaker content I: Conjunction, disjunction and negation. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 46(6), 625–674.

    Article  Google 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Griffith, A. M. (2014). Truthmaking and grounding. Inquiry, 57(2), 196–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Griffith, A. M. (2018). Social construction: Big-G grounding, small-G realization. Philosophical Studies, 175(1), 241–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Jaworski, W. (2009). The logic of how-questions. Synthese, 166(1), 133–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Kearns, K. (2003). Durative achievements and individual-level predicates on events. Linguistics and Philosophy, 26(5), 595–635.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Koslicki, K. (2015). The coarse-grainedness of grounding. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 2015, 306–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Kovacs, D. M. (2017). Grounding and the argument from explanatoriness. Philosophical Studies, 174(12), 2927–2952.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Krämer, S., & Roski, S. (2017). Difference-making grounds. Philosophical Studies, 174(5), 1191–1215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Leuenberger, S. (2014). Grounding and necessity. Inquiry, 57(2), 151–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Litland, J. E. (2013). On some counterexamples to the transitivity of grounding. Essays in Philosophy, 14(1), 3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Makin, M. (2017). Rigid/non-rigid grounding and transitivity. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. https://doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2017.1385523.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Maurin, A.-S. (2018). Grounding and metaphysical explanation: It’s complicated. Philosophical Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-018-1080-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Miller, K., & Norton, J. (2017). Grounding: It’s all in the head. Philosophical Studies, 174(12), 3059–3081.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Naomi, T. (2016). Grounding and metaphysical explanation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 116(3), 395–402.

    Article  Google 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Rettler, B. (2017). Grounds and “grounds”. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 47, 1–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. (2015). Grounding is not a strict order. Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 1(3), 517–534.

    Article  Google 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.

    Google 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Schnieder, B. (2006). Truth-making without truth-makers. Synthese, 152(1), 21–46.

    Article  Google 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Street, S. (2010). What is constructivism in ethics and metaethics? Philosophy Compass, 5(5), 363–384.

    Article  Google 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.

    Article  Google 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Wilson, J. (2014). No work for a theory of grounding. Inquiry, 57, 535–579.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Yablo, S. (2014). Aboutness. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin Richardson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Richardson, K. Grounding Pluralism: Why and How. Erkenn (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-018-0083-8

Download citation