On the Intelligibility of Grounding Autonomy
Holstein, Jacob Scott
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Metaphysical grounding has received a great deal of attention in the metaphysics literature within the last decade, offering what many see as an attractive theoretical alternative to other attempts to analyze the nature of fundamentality, e.g., dependence, supervenience, identity, conceptual analysis, etc. Still, a number of commentators note a bevy of issues facing the notion of grounding, leading some to believe it cannot perform the relevant work it has been tasked to do. One such issue is the purity dilemma, posed by Ted Sider, which follows from a plausible constraint placed on our theorizing about fundamentality, viz., that the fundamental bedrock of the world contains nothing but purely fundamental phenomena. It is argued that purity creates a problem for metaphysical grounding in that it makes it increasingly difficult to see what might ground the facts about what grounds what. In this paper, I explicate the purity dilemma, and an attempt made by Shamik Dasgupta to sidestep the challenge, and provide a secure grounding foundation for such facts. I then proceed to defend Dasgupta's view from objections made by Sider, and conclude that, at the very least, the crucial notion (autonomy) on which the former's view rests is intelligible, if it is not tenable.
General Audience Abstract
In this paper I discuss an ongoing debate over the nature of metaphysical grounding. Metaphysical grounding (or, “grounding”) is of interest to metaphysicians due to the satisfying way in which it handles a number of long-standing problems in the field. As Johnathan Schaffer (2009) notes, metaphysics has often concerned itself with what the most basic nature of reality is like, and grounding promises to furnish many of our metaphysical theories with the tools to answer such questions. Still, there remains a number of problems with characterizing grounding. The relevant problem I tackle in this paper has to do with whether or not grounding can be understood in its own terms. Ted Sider, for example, has suspicions that it cannot. I argue, on the behalf of Shamik Dasgupta, that there is an intelligible way to understand grounding in its own terms, and work to provide constructive answers to some of Sider’s objections.
- Masters Theses