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How to properly lose direction

  • Alex SteinbergEmail author


One of the central puzzles in ontology concerns the relation between apparently innocent sentences and their ontologically loaded counterparts. In recent work, Agustín Rayo has developed the insight that such cases can be usefully described with the help of the ‘just is’ operator: plausibly, for there to be a table just is for there to be some things arranged tablewise; and for the number of dinosaurs to be Zero just is for there to be no dinosaurs. How does the operator relate to another prominent notion that is frequently put to similar use: metaphysical grounding? In this paper I show that despite what has been argued in the literature the ‘just is’ operator can be spelled out in terms of grounding: roughly, as having the same ultimate grounds. This is good news for Rayo, for it broadens his target audience. It is even better news for the friends of ground. For it exemplifies the immense fruitfulness of the notion of grounding in its ability to incorporate philosophically highly significant subtheories.


Just is Grounding Agustín Rayo 



I’d like to thank Oslo’s ConceptLab for hosting me on an equally as productive as pleasant research stay during which the bulk of this paper came into existence as well as Peter Fritz for inviting me to present at a mini workshop on Rayo’s work which sparked my interest in the main question of this paper. Thanks are also due to audiences at the mini workshop, particularly Katharina Felka, Jon Litland, Øystein Linnebo and Agustín Rayo as well as at research colloquia at the universities of Essen, Bielefeld and Zurich. I gratefully acknowledge financial support from the University of Zurich’s Forschungskredit (grant no. FK-16-078). Funding was provided by Universität Zürich (Grant No. FK-16-078).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Institute of PhilosophyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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