Grounding and its Limits

Barker, Jonathan, Philosophy - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Merricks, Trenton, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia

Metaphysical grounding is the relation of non-causal explanation by which less fundamental entities obtain in virtue of, are determined by, or exist because of, more fundamental entities. In this dissertation I argue against some popular positions about the relationship between a grounded entity and its fundamental grounds. These positions together imply that grounded entities are less “real” than fundamental entities, and that metaphysics should therefore focus exclusively on the fundamental. I defend an alternative position, according to which grounded entities are equally as real as the fundamental entities in which they are ultimately grounded. Consequently, so I argue, there are legitimate and interesting metaphysical questions about both the fundamental and the grounded. Finally, I argue that my view can help shed new light on some traditional problems in the metaphysics of material objects, including the puzzle of the statue and the lump of clay, the Vagueness Argument against restricted composition, and the threat posed by perceptual debunking arguments.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Grounding, Fundamentality, Ontological Innocence, Material Objects, Metaphysics
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