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Annotated bibliography on metaphysical grounding. Fifth part: Sch-Z


Related pages


  1. Schaffer, Jonathan. 2009. "On What Grounds What." In Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, edited by Chalmers, David, Manley, David and Wasserman, Ryan, 347-383. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    "On the now dominant Quinean view, metaphysics is about what there is. Metaphysics so conceived is concerned with such questions as whether properties exist, whether meanings exist, and whether numbers exist. I will argue for the revival of a more traditional Aristotelian view, on which metaphysics is about what grounds what. Metaphysics so revived does not bother asking whether properties, meanings, and numbers exist. Of course they do! The question is whether or not they are fundamental.

    In §1 I will distinguish three conceptions of metaphysical structure. In §2 I will defend the Aristotelian view, coupled with a permissive line on existence. In §3 I will further develop a neo-Aristotelian framework, built around primitive grounding relations." (p. 347)

  2. ———. 2010. "Monism: The Priority of the Whole." Philosophical Review no. 119:31-76.

    "The monist holds that the whole is prior to its parts, and thusviews the cosmos as fundamental, with metaphysical explanation dangling downward from the One. The pluralist holds that the parts are prior to their whole, and thus tends to consider particles fundamental, with metaphysical explanation snaking upward from the many. Just as the materialist and idealist debate which properties are fundamental, so the monist and pluralist debate which objects are fundamental.

    I will defend the monistic view. In particular I will argue that there are physical and modal considerations that favor the priority of the whole.

    Physically, there is good evidence that the cosmos forms an entangled system and good reason to treat entangled systems as irreducible wholes. Modally, mereology allows for the possibility of atomless gunk, with no ultimate parts for the pluralist to invoke as the ground of being." (pp. 31-32)

  3. ———. 2010. "The Least Discerning and Most Promiscuous Truthmaker." Philosophical Quarterly no. 60:307-324.

    Abstract: "I argue that the one and only truthmaker is the world. This view can be seen as arising from (i) the view that truthmaking is a relation of grounding holding between true propositions and fundamental entities, together with (ii) the view that the world is the one and only fundamental entity. I argue that this view provides an elegant and economical account of the truthmakers, while solving the problem of negative existentials, in a way that proves ontologically revealing."

  4. ———. 2012. "Grounding, Transitivity, and Contrastivity." In Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality, edited by Correia, Fabrice and Schnieder, Benjamin, 122-138. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "Grounding is generally assumed to be transitive. The assumption of transitivity is natural. For instance, if the physical system grounds the chemical arrangement, and the chemical arrangement grounds the biological organism, then it is natural to thereby infer that the physical system must ground the biological organism. Moreover the assumption of transitivity is useful. By treating grounding as transitive (and irreflexive), one generates a strict partial ordering that induces metaphysical structure.

    Yet I will offer counterexamples to the transitivity of grounding. Such counterexamples should not be so surprising given that grounding is akin to causation, and that there are known counterexamples to the transitivity of causation. I will conclude by explaining how a contrastive approach can resolve the counterexamples while retaining metaphysical structure." (p. 121)

  5. ———. 2015. "What Not to Multiply Without Necessity." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 93:644-664.

    "Introduction: The Razor commands: Do not multiply entities without necessity! Few principles are as pervasive in contemporary metaphysics. Yet I argue that the Razor is too blunt a measure of ontological economy, failing to distinguish fundamental from derivative entities. Instead I recommend the more precise Laser, which is focused specifically on fundamental entities, and commands: Do not multiply fundamental entities without necessity!

    I argue that the Laser represents an improvement over the Razor, I connect the Laser to an underlying ‘bang for the buck’ methodology, and I trace the implications of this bang-for-the-buck methodology for certain metaphysical debates. What emerges is general pressure towards a permissive and abundant view of what there is, coupled with a restrictive and sparse view of what is fundamental. Classical mereology and pure set theory come out as paradigms of methodological virtue, for making so much from so little.

    In arguing that the Laser represents an improvement over the Razor, I take for granted that ontological economy is an aspect of rational theory choice.


    My thesis is that, given that ontological economy is an aspect of rational theory choice, this notion of economy is better scanned through the Laser.

  6. ———. 2016. "Grounding in the Image of Causation." Philosophical Studies no. 173:49-100.

    Abstract: "Grounding is often glossed as metaphysical causation, yet no current theory of grounding looks remotely like a plausible treatment of causation. I propose to take the analogy between grounding and causation seriously, by providing an account of grounding in the image of causation, on the template of structural equation models for causation."

  7. ———. 2016. "Ground Rules: Lessons from Wilson." In Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground, edited by Aizawa, Ken and Gillett, Carl, 143-170. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.

    "Overview: In section “A Brief Introduction to Grounding”, I offer a brief introduction to the notion of grounding. In sections “Are Grounding Claims Informative? and Are Grounding Claims Helpful?”, I take up Wilson’s two main objections to grounding-based approaches—that bare grounding claims are uninformative, and that such claims are unhelpful—and extract two main lessons. In section “Wilson’s Pluralistic Framework”, I critique Wilson’s rival pluralistic approach for, among other things, not taking up Wilson’s own lessons. I conclude in section “Structural Equation Models to the Rescue” by explaining how an approach based on structural equation models for grounding has a special claim to adequacy." (p. 144)


    Wilson, J. M. (2014). No work for a theory of grounding. Inquiry, 57, 535–79.

  8. ———. 2017. "The Ground Between the Gaps." Philosophers' Imprint no. 17:1-26.

    "Overview: In §1 I review and clarify the idea there is a special explanatory gap arising between the physical and the phenomenal. In §2 I examine the usual “transparent” connections such as between the H, H, and O atoms and the H2O molecule they compose, and argue that such transitions require substantive metaphysical principles (in this case mereological principles about both the existence and the nature of wholes). In §3 I offer a more theoretical route to the more general conclusion that substantive metaphysical principles are needed in all concrete cases, by presenting a formalism for grounding relations generally (based on structural equation models) which requires the specification of dependence functions. Finally, in §4 I articulate a form of physicalism — “ground physicalism” — on which the physical is the ultimate ground for the chemical, the biological, and the psychological, and show how it resolves explanatory gap worries." (p. 2)

  9. ———. 2017. "Social Construction as Grounding; or: Fundamentality for Feminists, a Reply to Barnes and Mikkola." Philosophical Studies no. 174:2449-2465.

    Abstract: "Feminist metaphysics is guided by the insight that gender is socially constructed, yet the metaphysics behind social construction remains obscure. Barnes and Mikkola charge that current metaphysical frameworks—including my grounding framework—are hostile to feminist metaphysics. I argue that not only is a grounding framework hospitable to feminist metaphysics, but also that a grounding framework can help shed light on the metaphysics behind social construction. By treating social construction claims as grounding claims, the feminist metaphysician and the social ontologist both gain a way to integrate social construction claims into a general metaphysics, while accounting for the inferential connections between social construction and attendant notions such as dependence and explanation. So I conclude that a grounding framework can be helpful for feminist metaphysics and social ontology."

  10. ———. 2021. "Ground Functionalism." Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind no. 1:171-207.

    "I have the bold ambition of reviving the hopeful materialist story, by adding a new chapter—ground functionalism—which integrates functionalist insights about the mind with ground-theoretic insights about explanation.

    The ground functionalist posits a mind making principle linking material states to mental states via functional role, such that a properly choreographed system dances out a mind. I argue that ground functionalism preserves the insights of functionalism, while enabling a viable explanation for consciousness." (pp. 171-172)

  11. Schnieder, Benjamin. 2006. "Truth-Making without Truth-Makers." Synthese no. 152:21-46.

    Abstract: "The article is primarily concerned with the notion of a truthmaker.

    An explication for this notion is offered, which relates it to other notions of making something such-and-such. In particular, it is shown that the notion of a truth-maker is a close relative of a concept employed by van Inwagen in the formulation of his Consequence Argument. This circumstance helps understanding the general mechanisms of the concepts involved. Thus, a schematic explication of a whole battery of related notions is offered. It is based on an explanatory notion, introduced by the sentential connector “because”, whose function is examined in some detail. Finally, on the basis of the explication proposed, an argument is developed to the effect that the objects usually regarded as truthmakers are not apt to play this role."

  12. ———. 2010. "A Puzzle about ‘Because'." Logique et Analyse no. 53:317-343.

    Abstract: "The essay is a partial investigation into the semantics of the explanatory connective ‘because’. After three independently plausible assumptions about ‘because’ are presented in some detail, it is shown how their interaction generates a puzzle about ‘because’, once they are combined with a common view on conceptual analysis. Four possible solutions to the puzzle are considered."

  13. ———. 2011. "A Logic for ‘Because'." The Review of Symbolic Logic no. 4:445-465.

    Abstract: "In spite of its significance for everyday and philosophical discourse, the explanatory connective ‘because’ has not received much treatment in the philosophy of logic. The present paper develops a logic for ‘because’ based on systematic connections between ‘because’ and the truth-functional connectives."

  14. ———. 2016. "In Defence of a Logic for ‘Because’." Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logics:160-171.

    Abstract: "The present author developed a calculus for the logic of ‘because’.

    In a recent paper in this journal, it has been claimed that the central inference rules for the logic are invalid and that the intuition upon which the rules are based is not accounted for. This note criticises these arguments and presents an independent argument in favour of the rules used in the logic."


    Tsohatzidis, S. (2015). A problem for a logic of ‘because’. Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logics, 25, 46–49.

  15. ———. 2018. "On Ground and Consequence." Synthese no. 198:1335-1363.

    Abstract: "What does it mean that some proposition follows from others? The standard way of spelling out the notion proceeds in modal terms: x follows from y iff necessarily, if y is true, so is x. But although this yields a useful and manageable account of consequence, it fails to capture certain aspects of our pre-theoretical understanding of consequence. In this paper, an alternative notion of logical consequence, based on the idea of grounding, is developed."

  16. ———. 2019. "On the Relevance of Grounds." In Quo Vadis, Metaphysics?: Essays in Honor of Peter van Inwagen, edited by Szatkowski, Mirosław, 59-82. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    Abstract: "Three traditional philosophical issues that van Inwagen discusses in his metaphysical works are the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the question of why there is something rather than nothing, and the question of whether free will is compatible with determinism. The three topics are connected by a conceptual tie: the notion of a ground. In this essay, it is argued that van Inwagen’s take on the three topics, ingenious as it otherwise is, suffers from an inadequate conception of the underlying notion of a ground."

  17. ———. 2020. "Grounding and Dependence." Synthese no. 197:95-124.

    Abstract: "The paper deals with the notions of grounding and of existential dependence.

    It is shown that cases of existential dependence seem to be systematically correlated to cases of grounding and hence the question is raised what sort of tie might hold the two notions together so as to account for the observed correlation. The paper focusses on three possible ties between grounding and existential dependence: identity (as suggested in Jonathan Schaffer’s works), definition (as suggested by Fabrice Correia and Benjamin Schnieder), and grounding (as suggested by Kathrin Koslicki and Francesco Orilia). A case for the definitional tie is made."

  18. Schnieder, Benjamin, and Steinberg, Alex. 2016. "Without Reason?" Pacific Philosophical Quarterly no. 97:523-541.

    Abstract: "The argument for modal collapse is partly responsible for the widespread rejection of the so-called Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) in recent times. This paper discusses the PSR against the background of the recent debate about grounding and develops principled reasons for rejecting the argument from modal collapse."

  19. Schnieder, Benjamin, and Werner, Jonas. 2021. "An Aristotelian Approach to Existential Dependence." In Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Formal Causation, edited by Jansen, Ludger and Sandstad, Petter, 151-174. New York: Routledge.

    "According to W. V. Quine, the goal of ontology is simply to determine what there is. But neo-Aristotelians think that this leaves out a crucial aspect of the ontological enterprise. For, not all entities are born equal.

    Some entities exist only derivatively: they depend for their existence on other, more fundamental, entities which make the former exist. To study such existential dependencies is a central task of ontology." (p. 151)

  20. Schulte, Peter. 2019. "Grounding Nominalism." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly no. 100:482-505.

    Abstract: "The notion of grounding has gained increasing acceptance among metaphysicians in recent years. In this paper, I argue that this notion can be used to formulate a very attractive version of (property) nominalism, a view that I call ‘grounding nominalism’. Simplifying somewhat, this is the view that all properties are grounded in things. I argue that this view is coherent and has a decisive advantage over competing versions of nominalism: it allows us to accept properties as real, while fully accommodating nominalist intuitions. Finally, I defend grounding nominalism against several seemingly troublesome objections."

  21. Sher, Gila. 2019. "Where Are You Going, Metaphysics, and How Are You Getting There? – Grounding Theory as a Case Study." In Quo Vadis, Metaphysics?: Essays in Honor of Peter van Inwagen, edited by Szatkowski, Mirosław, 37-57. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    Abstract: "The viability of metaphysics as a field of knowledge has been challenged time and again. But in spite of the continuing tendency to dismiss metaphysics, there has been considerable progress in this field in the 20th- and 21st-centuries. One of the newest – though, in a sense, also oldest – frontiers of metaphysics is the grounding project. In this paper I raise a methodological challenge to the new grounding project and propose a constructive solution. Both the challenge and its solution apply to metaphysics in general, but grounding theory puts the challenge in an especially sharp focus. The solution consists of a new methodology, holistic grounding or holistic metaphysics. This methodology is modeled after a recent epistemic methodology, foundational holism, that enables us to pursue the foundational project of epistemology without being hampered by the problems associated with foundationalism."

  22. Shumener, Eric. 2020. "Identity." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 413-424. New York: Routledge.

    "This chapter concerns the nature of identity criteria and the relationship between ground and facts of identity or distinctness.After some preliminaries in Section I, we turn to formulations of identity criteria in terms of ground in Section II. Section III explores reasons for and against taking identity and distinctness facts to be fundamental. Section IV tackles specific proposals for grounding identity and distinctness facts." (p. 413)

  23. Sider, Theodore. 2020. "Ground Grounded." Philosophical Studies no. 177:747-767.

    Abstract: "Most facts of grounding involve nonfundamental concepts, and thus must themselves be grounded. But how? The leading approaches—due to Bennett, deRosset, and Dagupta—are subject to objections. The way forward is to deny a presupposition common to the leading approaches, that there must be some simple formula governing how grounding facts are grounded. Everyone agrees that facts about cities might be grounded in some complex way about which we know little; we should say the same about the facts of grounding themselves. The kinds of facts that might enter into the grounds of the facts of grounding are explored at length."

  24. ———. 2020. The Tools of Metaphysics and the Metaphysics of Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Chapter 1: Postmodal Metaphysics and Structuralism 1; Chapter 2: Nomic Essentialism 23-44.

    "Recently there has been a shift to new tools (or perhaps a return to old ones), which I will call “postmodal”. David Lewis (who had also been a leader in the modal revolution) enriched his conceptual toolkit with the concept of natural properties and relations—those elite properties and relations that determine objective similarities, occur in the fundamental laws, and whose distribution ?xes everything else. I myself have argued for the centrality of a concept that is closely related to Lewis’s notion of naturalness: the concept of structure, or as I’ll put it here, the concept of a fundamental concept. Fundamental concepts are not limited to those expressed by predicates; we may ask, for instance, whether quanti?ers or modal operators express fundamental concepts—whether they help to capture the world’s fundamental structure. Kit Fine (re-)introduced the concept of essence, and argued that it should not be understood modally. He pointed out that although it does seem to be an essential feature of the singleton set [Socrates] that it contain Socrates, it does not seem to be an essential feature of Socrates that he be contained in [Socrates]; being a member of this set is not “part of what Socrates is”. Thus we cannot define a thing’s essential features, as it had been common to do in the halcyon days of the modal era, as those features that the thing possesses necessarily, for it is plausible that Socrates possesses the feature of being a member of [Socrates] necessarily.(2) Fine also (re-)introduced a notion of ground. One fact grounds another, he said, if the second holds in virtue of the first—if the first explains, in a distinctively metaphysical way, the second. Interest in ground and related concepts over the past ten years or so has been intense." (p. 2)

    (2) See also Dunn (1990, section 4).


    Dunn, J. Michael (1990). Relevant predication 3: Essential properties. In Truth or Consequences (edited by J. Dunn and A. Gupta), pp. 77–95. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

  25. Sijuwade, Joshua. 2021. "Grounding and the Existence of God." Metaphysica.

    First online December 16, 2021.

    Abstract: "In this article, I seek to assess the extent to which Theism, the claim that there is a God, can provide a true fundamental explanation for the instantiation of the grounding relation that connects the various entities within the layered structure of reality. More precisely, I seek to utilise the explanatory framework of Richard Swinburne within a specific metaphysical context, a ground-theoretic context, which will enable me to develop a true fundamental explanation for the existence of grounding. And thus, given the truth of this type of explanation, we will have a further reason to believe in the existence of God."

  26. Sirkel, Riin, and Tahko, Tuomas E. 2014. "Editorial: Aristotelian Metaphysics: Essence and Ground." Studia Philosophica Estonica no. 7:1-4.

    Articles: Justin Zylstra: Dependence and Fundamentality 5-28; Margaret Anne Cameron: Is Ground Said-in-Many-Ways? 29-55; Pablo Carnino: On the Reduction of Grounding to Essence 56-71; Ryan Christensen: Essence, Essence, and Essence 72-87; Lucas Angioni: Aristotle on Necessary Principles and on Explaining X through X’s essence 88-112; Kathrin Koslicki: The Causal Priority of Form in Aristotle 113-141; Michail Peramatzis: Sameness, Definition, and Essence 142-167; Christine J. Thomas: Plato on Metaphysical Explanation: Does 'Participating' Mean Nothing? 168-194; Travis Dumsday: E.J. Lowe on the Unity Problem 195-218.

    "This special issue of Studia Philosophica Estonica centers around Aristotelian metaphysics, construed broadly to cover both scholarly research on Aristotle’s metaphysics as well as work by contemporary metaphysicians on Aristotelian themes.


    "The contribution this special issue makes to the ongoing discussion is twofold. First, the special issue promotes a deeper interaction between scholars of Aristotle and contemporary metaphysicians. We hope that the papers encourage people working in the history of philosophy to relate to contemporary discussions and people working in contemporary metaphysics to engage with Aristotle and Ancient scholarship. Second, the special issue is unified in its focus on two themes in Aristotelian metaphysics, essence and grounding. The papers address questions concerning fundamentality and dependence, ontological independence or priority, the causal priority of forms, the unity of grounding, the reduction of grounding to essence, the unity of essence, the roles of essence, and explanation and definition. We hope that this issue opens up fresh and exciting avenues for future research both in Ancient scholarship as well as in contemporary metaphysics. A brief summary of the volume’s papers follows."(p. 1)

  27. Siscoe, Robert Weston. 2021. "Grounding and a Priori Epistemology: Challenges for Conceptualism." Synthese no. 199:11445-11463.

    Abstract: "Traditional rationalist approaches to a priori epistemology have long been looked upon with suspicion for positing a faculty of rational intuition capable of knowing truths about the world apart from experience. Conceptualists have tried to fill this void with something more empirically tractable, arguing that we know a priori truths due to our understanding of concepts. All of this theorizing, however, has carried on while neglecting an entire cross section of such truths, the grounding claims that we know a priori. Taking a priori grounding into account poses a significant challenge to conceptualist accounts of a priori knowledge, as it is unclear how merely understanding conceptual connections can account for knowledge of grounding. The fact that we do know some grounding truths a priori, then, is a significant mark in traditional rationalism’s favor, and the next frontier for those who aim to eliminate the mystery surrounding a priori knowledge."

  28. ———. 2021. "Grounding, Understanding, and Explanation." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

    Abstract: "Starting with the slogan that understanding is a ‘knowledge of causes’, Stephen Grimm and John Greco have argued that understanding comes from a knowledge of dependence relations. Grounding is the trendiest dependence relation on the market, and if Grimm and Greco are correct, then instances of grounding should also give rise to understanding. In this paper, I will show that this prediction is correct – grounding does indeed generate understanding in just the way that Grimm and Greco anticipate. However, grounding examples of understanding also show that Grimm and Greco are not telling the full story when it comes to understanding. Understanding can only be generated by a particular subset of dependence relations – those dependence relations that are also explanatory. Grimm and Greco should thus appeal to a privileged class of dependence relations, relations like grounding that can also give rise to explanation."

  29. Skiba, Lukas. 2022. "In Defence of Hybrid Contingentism." Philosophers' Imprint no. 22:1-30.

    "After situating, in §2, the haecceities objection more carefully in the overall context of Williamson’s case for uniform necessitism and clarifying it in some important respects, I turn to the notion of non-causal explanation it involves and whose role in the objection has, surprisingly, not yet received much attention. I fill this lacuna in §3, where I argue that the objection can be fruitfully understood as challenging the contingentists to provide metaphysical grounds for the haecceity facts in question. In §4, I propose a way in which contingentists can meet this challenge, drawing n recent work concerning the interaction of round and essence. In §5, I develop and defend the resulting hybrid contingentist position by showing that, first impression to the contrary, it coheres well with an essence-based account of ontological dependence.9" (p. 3, notes omitted)


    Williamson, T. (2013). Modal Logic as Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.

  30. Skiles, Alexander. 2014. "Primitivism about Intrinsicality." In Companion to Intrinsic Properties, edited by Francescotti, Robert M., 221-252. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    "Objections to the thesis that intrinsicality fails to succumb to reductive analysis have not been fully articulated or defended anywhere in the literature. Indeed, the thesis is rarely mentioned even as an option (let alone a live one). Nor has it been discussed what a viable account of intrinsicality along these lines could,or should, look like.

    The goal of this chapter is to explore the prospects of the view I shall call primitivism about intrinsicality, and offer a limited defense. A key component of this limited defense consists simply in clarifying what it could be, exactly, for intrinsicality to be “primitive”. As we shall see, at least some prima facie decisive objections to primitivism seem less convincing once this has been done.

    Doing so is the task of section 1. In section 2, I then consider several arguments for primitivism about intrinsicality. And finally, in section 3, I consider several arguments against it." (p. 222, a note omitted)

  31. ———. 2015. "Against Grounding Necessitarianism." Erkenntnis no. 80:717-751.

    Abstract: "Can there be grounding without necessitation? Can a fact obtain wholly in virtue of metaphysically more fundamental facts, even though there are possible worlds at which the latter facts obtain but not the former? It is an orthodoxy in recent literature about the nature of grounding, and in first-order philosophical disputes about what grounds what, that the answer is no. I will argue that the correct answer is yes. I present two novel arguments against grounding necessitarianism, and show that grounding contingentism is fully compatible with the various explanatory roles that grounding is widely thought to play."

  32. ———. 2020. "Necessity." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 148-163. New York: Routledge.

    "In §1, I discuss the main arguments in the literature for necessitarianism and consider responses to them. In §2, contingentism is subjected to the same treatment. In §3, I survey the internalism versus externalism dispute. (Since the necessitarianism vs. contingentism dispute has been explored in more depth than the internalism vs. externalism dispute, and because many of the maneuvers available within the first dispute have analogues in the second, I will focus more attention on the former.)" (pp. 148-149)

  33. Skiles, Alexander, and Trogdon, Kelly. 2013. "Grounding." In The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics, edited by Bliss, Ricki and Miller, J. T. M., 199-210. New York: Routledge.

    "Metametaphysics concerns foundational metaphysics. Questions of foundational metaphysics include: What is the subject matter of metaphysics? What are its aims? What is the methodology of metaphysics? Are metaphysical questions coherent? If so, are they substantive or trivial in nature? Some have claimed that the notion of grounding is useful in addressing such questions. In this chapter, we introduce some core debates about whether – and, if so, how – grounding should play a role in metametaphysics." (p. 199)


    "In what follows, we focus on three of the most interesting and widely discussed roles that have been assigned to grounding in metametaphysics. Specifically, we consider how grounding might be relevant to whether metaphysical questions are substantive (§1), how to choose between metaphysical theories (§2), and how to understand so-called ‘location problems’ (§3)." (.p 200, anote omitted)

  34. ———. 2019. "Maurin on Grounding and Explanation." In Maurinian Truths – Essays in Honour of Anna-Sofia Maurin on her 50th Birthday, edited by Wahlberg, Tobias Hansson and Stenwall, Robin, 159-172. Lund: Lund University.

    "In the classical and contemporary literature on grounding, explanatory language is routinely used to communicate what it is and to motivate substantive principles about how it behaves."


    "Two views have emerged about how to answer this question.

    Some stipulate that by ‘grounding’ they mean a distinctive form of determination, what we will call determinationG, where to determine is, roughly speaking, to produce or bring about (Audi 2012; Schaffer 2016; and Trogdon 2013)."


    "Others stipulate that by ‘grounding’ they mean a distinctive form of explanation, what we will call explanationG (Dasgupta 2017; Litland 2015; and Rosen 2010).


    As is customary, let us call the latter view Unionism (grounding is explanationG) and the former view Separatism (grounding is determinationG).

    Compatible with Separatism is the idea that there are conditions under which grounding backs or underwrites explanations, and Unionism is compatible with the view that there are conditions under which grounding itself is backed or underwritten by other relations.

    In “Grounding and Explanation: It’s Complicated” (2019), Anna-Sofia Maurin aims to show that, despite appearances, Unionism and Separatism in fact undermine the use that explanatory language has been put to in elucidating grounding, rather than undergird it. In what follows we will critically assess her interesting argument." (pp. 159-160)


    Audi, P. (2012) Grounding: Toward a Theory of the In-Virtue-Of Relation, Journal of Philosophy 109, 685–711.

    Dasgupta, S. (2017) Constitutive Explanation, Philosophical Issues 27, 74–97.

    Litland, J. (2015) Grounding, Explanation, and the Limit of Internality, Philosophical Review 124, 481–532.

    Maurin, A.-S. (2019) Grounding and Explanation: It’s Complicated, Philosophical Studies 176, 1573–1594.

    Rosen, G. (2010) Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction. In R. Hale and A. Hoffman (eds.) Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Schaffer, J. (2016) Grounding in the Image of Causation, Philosophical Studies 173, 49–100.

    Trogdon, K. (2013) An Introduction to Grounding. In B. Schnieder, M. Hoeltje, & A. Steinberg (eds.), Varieties of Dependence. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.

  35. ———. 2021. "Should Explanation Be a Guide to Ground?" Philosophical Studies no. 178:4083-4098.

    Abstract: "Grounding and explanation are said to be intimately connected. Some even maintain that grounding just is a form of explanation. But grounding and explanation also seem importantly different—on the face of it, the former is ‘worldy’ or ‘objective’ while the latter isn’t. In this paper, we develop and respond to an argument to the effect that there is no way to fruitfully address this tension that retains orthodox views about grounding and explanation but doesn’t undermine a central piece of methodology, namely that explanation is a guide to ground."

  36. Skow, Bradford. 2016. Reasons Why. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "Why-questions are important in metaphysics. The obvious example is their importance to the theory of grounding. Many metaphysicians are very busy producing theories of grounding—but what is grounding? A common strategy for helping initiates get a handle on the subject matter of these theories is to say that when one fact grounds another, the first may be used to answer the question why the second obtains. Another example of a part of metaphysics where why-questions are important is the theory of modality. If some fact F obtains in two possible worlds W andV, then those worlds are in one respect similar. Boris Kment argues, in “Counterfactuals and Explanation,” that this respect of similarity matters for how close V and W are, in the sense of closeness relevant to evaluating counterfactuals, if and only if the question why F obtains has the same answer in both worlds." (p. 2)


    Kment, Boris. “Counterfactuals and Explanation.” Mind vol. 115, 2006, 261-309.

  37. Smithson, Robert. 2020. "Metaphysical and Conceptual Grounding." Erkenntnis no. 85:1501-1525.

    Abstract: "In this paper, I clarify the relation between two types of grounding: metaphysical and conceptual. Metaphysical grounding relates entities at more and less fundamental ontological levels. Conceptual grounding relates semantically primitive sentences and semantically derivative sentences. It is important to distinguish these relations given that both types of grounding can underwrite non-causal “in-virtue-of” claims. In this paper, I argue that conceptual and metaphysical grounding are exclusive: if a given in-virtue-of claim involves conceptual grounding, then it does not involve metaphysical grounding. I then present two heuristics for deciding which type of grounding is relevant to a given case. These heuristics suggest that certain proposed cases of metaphysical grounding may not actually involve metaphysical grounding at all."

  38. Solomyak, Olla. 2020. "Realism." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 375-386. New York: Routledge.

    "Questions of ground and questions of realism appear to be tightly connected in a number of ways, but there has not been consensus on precisely how these connections should be understood nor a full explication of the various approaches one might take on this issue. My aim in this chapter will be to spell out several ways in which we might see these questions as connected and thereby clarify the role for questions of ground in metaphysical inquiry more generally." (p. 375)

  39. Steinberg, Alex. 2013. "Supervenience: A Survey." In Varieties of Dependence: Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence, edited by Hoeltje, Miguel, Schnieder, Benjamin and Steinberg, Alex, 123-166. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.

    "Many philosophers think that an important sort of dependence that relates conjunctive facts to atomic facts and the primary colours to the specific shades can be captured by supervenience claims."


    "Supervenience, then, promises to be one of the dependence relations that structure the world we live in. This paper aims to give an overview of the subject. Section 1 introduces the main kinds of supervenience.

    Section 2 discusses their relations. And section 3 makes the case that purely modal definitions of supervenience can fruitfully be improved upon.

    In the rest of the paper I will follow the bulk of the philosophical literature in focusing exclusively on properties as the relata of supervenience." (pp. 123-124)

  40. Stenwall, Robin. 2017. "Causal Grounds for Negative Truths." Philosophical Studies no. 174:2973-2989.

    Abstract: "Among truthmaker theorists it is generally thought that we are not able to use the entailment principle (i.e. the principle according to which truthmaking distributes across entailment) to ground negative truths. But these theorists usually only discuss truthmakers for truth-functional complexes, thereby overlooking the fact that there are non-truth-functional complexes whose truth values are not solely determined by the truth or falsity of their atomic propositions. And once we expand the class of truths that require their own bespoke truthmakers to also include these, there is no reason to exempt negative truths from grounding. For given that truthmaking is closed under entailment and every negative truths is entailed by some non-truth-functional complex or other, any resources rich enough to ground the truth of the latter will do the same job for the former."

  41. ———. 2021. "A Grounding Physicalist Solution to the Causal Exclusion Problem." Synthese no. 198:11775-11795.

    Abstract: "Remember how Kim (Philos Perspect 3:77–108, 1989, in: Heil and Mele (eds) Mental causation, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993b) used to argue against non-reductive physicalism to the effect that it cannot accommodate the causal efficacy of the mental?

    The argument was that if physicalists accept the causal closure of the physical, they are faced with an exclusion problem. In the original version of the argument, the dependence holding between the mental and the physical was cashed out in terms of supervenience. Due to the work or Fine (Philos Perspect 8:1–16, 1994) and others, we have since come to realize that modal notions are not well-suited to perform the work of properly characterizing dependence. As a consequence of this, an increasingly larger community of contemporary metaphysicians prefer to spell out mental-physical dependence in terms of a non-causal and non-reductive notion called grounding, which is intended to target a particular sort of metaphysical relation that takes us from ontologically less fundamental features of the world to that which is more fundamental. In this paper I join forces with those who think that this shift in focus is on the right track.

    More specifically, I will argue that the grounding physicalist can solve the exclusion problem in a way that is preferable to the supervenience-based nonreductive physicalist solution, as well as in a way that is compatible with the externalist picture of the mental."


    Fine, K. (1994). Essence and modality. Philosophical Perspectives, 8, 1–16.

    Kim, J. (1989). Mechanism, purpose, and explanatory exclusion. Philosophical Perspectives, 3, 77–108. (Reprinted in Kim 1993a, pp. 237–64).

    Kim, J. (1993a). Supervenience and mind: Selected philosophical essays. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

  42. Tahko, Tuomas. 2015. An Introduction to Metametaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Chapter 5: Grounding and ontological dependence, pp. 93-119.

    "The notion of ‘ground’ stormed into contemporary analytic metaphysics at the beginning of the twenty-first century,(1) but the roots of the notion go all the way back to Aristotle. At its simplest, grounding may be understood as ‘metaphysical explanation’. To be more precise, when some x is grounded in some y, it is usually thought that y explains x. Moreover, the status of y is generally thought to be somehow prior to that of x – grounding is typically understood to express priority between things. For instance, we might say that the members of a set are prior to the set itself; the existence of the set is grounded in its members. Or to take a more concrete example, the existence of any given composite object is grounded in the existence of its parts." (p. 93)

    (1) The definitive work is Kit Fine, ‘The Question of Realism,’ Philosophers Imprint 1 (2001), pp. 1–30, but for more recent discussion, see especially F. Correia and B. Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality (Cambridge University Press, 2012); see also R. L. Bliss and K. Trogdon, ‘Metaphysical Grounding,’ in E. N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 edn); see "Metaphysical Grounding".

  43. Tahko, Tuomas E. 2013. "Truth‐Grounding and Transitivity." Thought: A Journal of Philosophy no. 2:332-340.

    Abstract: "It is argued that if we take grounding to be univocal, then there is a serious tension between truth-grounding and one commonly assumed structural principle for grounding, namely transitivity.

    The primary claim of the article is that truth-grounding cannot be transitive. Accordingly, it is either the case that grounding is not transitive or that truth-grounding is not grounding, or both."

  44. ———. 2020. "Structure." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 387-395. New York: Routledge.

    WIn this chapter, I will discuss both of these senses of structure as well as their potential connections. I will first briefly outline a potential connection between ground, structure, and fundamentality. Next we take up the idea that reality has a hierarchical structure and we will then examine whether there could be a systematic connection between ground and structure via the Lewisian notion of naturalness.This leads us to a question about the relationship between reality and representation, before concluding with a more detailed discussion about a famous principle regarding fundamentality, namely, the principle of purity." (p. 387)

  45. Tajer, Diego. 2016. "Grounding and Logical Basing Permissions." Diametros no. 50:81-96.

    Abstract: "The relation between logic and rationality has recently re-emerged as an important topic of discussion. Following the ideas of Broome [1999] and Macfarlane [2004], the debate focused on providing rational requirements, which work as bridges between logic and epistemic norms. However, as Broome [2014] and Way [2011] observed, the usual requirements cannot capture some important aspects of rationality, such as how one can rationally believe something on the basis of believing something else. Broome [2014] proposed a few additional principles ("basing permissions") for this purpose. In this paper I develop a more systematic family of basing permissions using the recent notion of grounding (Fine [2012], Correia [2014]). In particular, I claim that if Γ (logically) grounds Α, and you believe Γ then rationality permits you to believe Α on the basis of believing Γ."


    Broome [2014] - J. Broome, Rationality through reasoning, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014.

    Correia [2014] - F. Correia, " Logical Grounds," Review of Symbolic Logic (7/1) 2014, p. 31-59.

    Fine [2012] - K. Fine, A guide to ground, [in:] Grounding and Explanation, F. Correia, B. Schniereder (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2012, p. 37- 80.

    Macfarlane [2004] - J. Macfarlane, "What (if any) is the normative role of logic?", unpublished talk at APA 2004, available on the website of the author.

    Way [2011] - J. Way, "The symmetry of rational requirements," Philosophical Studies (155/2) 2011, p. 227- 239.

  46. Tallant, Jonathan. 2018. Truth and World: An Explanationist Theory. New York: Routledge.

    "My starting point for many of the arguments will be Armstrong’s canonical Truth and Truthmaking. So, to the theory. I borrow (with slight emendation) from Cameron (2008a).(1)

    Maximalism: for any true proposition, there exists some thing or things that necessitate(s) the truth of that proposition. (cf. Cameron, 2008a: 292)

    Maximalism is an extreme version of truthmaker theory.

    The truthmaker theorist merely holds that:

    Truthmaker theory: for some true propositions, there exists some thing or things that necessitate(s) the truth of that proposition.

    As we move through this chapter, we will have to refine these principles. For one thing, note that this treats necessitation as the truthmaker relation (as do, e.g., both Armstrong (2004) and Cameron (2008a)). I will suggest that mere necessitation is not fit to play the role of the truthmaker relation. Following a number of others (e.g., Schaffer, 2008a, 2008b, 2009: 365), I suggest that the truthmaker relation should be treated as a grounding relation – the ‘in virtue of’ relation. I take this relation to be a primitive and unanalysable relation, though there are things that can be said to cast light on its nature."

    (1) The emendation: Cameron states that truthmakers must be pluralities: things. There is no obvious reason that a truthmaker might not, instead, be a thing.


    Armstrong, D. 2004. Truth and Truthmakers. Cambridge: CUP.

    Cameron, R. 2008a. ‘Comments on Merricks’s Truth and Ontology’, Philosophical Books, 49, 292–301.

    Schaffer, J. 2008a. ‘Truthmaker Commitments’, Philosophical Studies, 141, 7–19.

    Schaffer, J. 2008b. ‘Truth and Fundamentality: On Merricks’s Truth and Ontology’, Philosophical Books, 49, 302–16.

    Schaffer, J. 2009. ‘On What Grounds What’, in D. Chalmers, D. Manley and R. Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics. Oxford: OUP, 347–83.

  47. Thompson, Naomi. 2014. Structuring Reality.

    PhD thesis at the University of Birmingham; available at

    Abstract: "This thesis explores attempts to characterise the structure of reality. Three notions stand out: Lewisian naturalness, Sider‘s 'structure', and grounding, where the latter has become the most popular way to characterise the structure of reality in the contemporary literature. I argue that none of these notions, as they are currently understood, are suited for limning the metaphysical structure of reality. In the first part of the thesis I argue that, by the lights of the relevant theories, both naturalness and structure fall short of the theoretical role carved out for those posits. In the second part of the thesis I present two challenges to the ‗orthodox‘ conception of grounding. The first contests the standard assumption that grounding is asymmetric, both by citing what I take to be best described as symmetric instances of grounding, and by developing and arguing for a new theory of metaphysical structure – ‗metaphysical interdependence‘ – which takes grounding to be nonsymmetric. The second challenge concerns the relationship between grounding and (metaphysical) explanation, and leads to a dilemma for the grounding theorist. My proposed resolution to the dilemma is to adopt an antirealist approach to grounding, which I further motivate and develop in the final chapter."

  48. ———. 2016. "Grounding and Metaphysical Explanation." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society no. 116:395-402.

    Abstract: "Attempts to elucidate grounding are often made by connecting grounding to metaphysical explanation, but the notion of metaphysical explanation is itself opaque, and has received little attention in the literature. We can appeal to theories of explanation in the philosophy of science to give us a characterisation of metaphysical explanation, but this reveals a tension between three theses: that grounding relations are objective and mind-independent; that there are pragmatic elements to metaphysical explanation; and that grounding and metaphysical explanation share a close connection. Holding fixed the mind-independence of grounding, I show that neither horn of the resultant dilemma can be blunted. Consequently, we should reject the assumption that grounding relations are mind-independent."

  49. ———. 2016. "Metaphysical Interdependence." In Reality Making, edited by Jago, Mark, 38-56. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    "I assume the existence of a distinctive relation of non-causal dependence: the grounding relation. Intuitive examples of grounding can help to elucidate the notion. Consider, for example, the relationship that obtains between Socrates’s singleton—the set that only has Socrates as a member—and Socrates himself (see Fine 1995, 271), where Socrates’s singleton exists because Socrates exists. Grounding can be understood as a relation of metaphysical explanation, as emphasized by the ‘because’ in the previous sentence. Claims about the dependence of truths on their truthmakers are also plausibly construed as grounding claims (e.g. Rodriguez-Pereyra 2006, 960; Correia 2011)—we get a particular truth in virtue of the existence of the relevant truthmaker. The truth is thus grounded in the truthmaker. Borrowing another kind of example of grounding from Schaffer 2009, 375), the Euthyphro dilemma concerns whether an act is morally right because it is approved by the gods, or is approved by the gods because it is morally right. If we take the first horn of the dilemma, then the rightness of the act is grounded in the approval of the gods. If the latter, the approval of the gods is grounded in the rightness of the act." (p. 38)


    Correia, F. (2011). ‘From Grounding to Truth-Making: Some Thoughts’. In Reboul, A., Philosophical papers dedicated to Kevin Mulligan, Cham: Springer [2014, vol. 1, pp. 85-98].

    Fine, K. (1995). ‘OntologicalDependence’. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 95, 269-90.

    Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. (2006). ‘Truthmaking, entailment, and the conjunction thesis’. Mind 115 (460): 957-82.

    Schaffer, J. (2009). ‘On What Grounds What’. In Chalmers, D., Manley, D, and Wasserman, R. (eds.) Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, pp. 347-83. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  50. ———. 2018. "Irrealism about Grounding." Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement no. 172:2405-2425.

    Abstract: "Grounding talk has become increasingly familiar in contemporary philosophical discussion. Most discussants of grounding think that grounding talk is useful, intelligible, and accurately describes metaphysical reality. Call them realists about grounding. Some dissenters reject grounding talk on the grounds that it is unintelligible, or unmotivated. They would prefer to eliminate grounding talk from philosophy, so we can call them eliminitivists about grounding. This paper outlines a new position in the debate about grounding, defending the view that grounding talk is (or at least can be) intelligible and useful. Grounding talk does not, however, provide a literal and veridical description of mind-independent metaphysical reality. This (non-eliminative) irrealism about grounding treads a path between realism and eliminativism."

  51. ———. 2019. "Questions and Answers: Metaphysical Explanation and the Structure of Reality." Journal of the American Philosophical Association:98-116.

    Abstract: "This paper develops an account of metaphysical explanation according to which metaphysical explanations are answers to what-makes-it-the-case-that questions. On this view, metaphysical explanations are not to be considered entirely objective, but are subject to epistemic constraints imposed by the context in which a relevant question is asked. The resultant account of metaphysical explanation is developed independently of any particular views about grounding.

    Toward the end of the paper an application of the view is proposed that takes metaphysical explanations conceived in this way to characterize reality’s structure. According to this proposal, reality’s structure is partly constituted by a projection of our explanatory practices onto reality."

  52. ———. 2020. "Strict Partial Order." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 259-270. New York: Routledge.

    "This chapter explores aspects of the logic of ground.A strict partial order is transitive, irreflexive, and asymmetric.Whilst it is generally assumed that grounding exhibits these properties, this has consequences for other aspects of the study of ground, and so each assumption has been challenged in the grounding literature.The present chapter critically discusses those challenges and explores reasons for thinking that grounding forms a strict partial order in the first place." (p. 259)

  53. Tiehen, Justin. 2015. "Grounding Causal Closure." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly no. 96:501-522.

    Abstract: "What does itmean to say thatmind-body dualismis causally problematic in a way that othermind-body theories, such as the psychophysical type identity theory, are not? After considering and rejecting various proposals, I advance my own, which focuses on what grounds the causal closure of the physical realm.

    A metametaphysical implication of my proposal is that philosophers working without the notion of grounding in their toolkit aremetaphysically impoverished.

    They cannot do justice to the thought, encountered in every introductory class in the philosophy of mind, that dualism has a special problem accounting for mental causation."

  54. ———. 2015. "Explaining Causal Closure." Philosophical Studies no. 172:2405-2425.

    Abstract: "The physical realm is causally closed, according to physicalists like me.

    But why is it causally closed, what metaphysically explains causal closure? I argue that reductive physicalists are committed to one explanation of causal closure to the exclusion of any independent explanation, and that as a result, they must give up on using a causal argument to attack mind–body dualism. Reductive physicalists should view dualism in much the way that we view the hypothesis that unicorns exist, or that the Kansas City Royals won the 2003 World Series: false, but not objectionable in any distinctively causal way. My argument turns on connections between explanation, counterfactuals, and inductive confirmation."

  55. Torza, Alessandro. 2020. "Ground and Modality." Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy no. 63:563-585.

    Abstract: "The grounding relation is routinely characterized by means of logical postulates.

    The aim of this paper is twofold. First, I show that a subset of those postulates is incompatible with a minimal characterization of metaphysical modality. Then I consider a number of ways for reconciling ground with modality. The simplest and most elegant solution consists in adopting serious actualism, which is best captured within a first-order modal language with predicate abstraction governed by negative free logic. I also explore a number of alternative strategies by revising the ground-theoretic postulates, while keeping the modal ones fixed. As I argue, each of those strategies is either unviable, highly contentious, or insufficiently motivated."

  56. Trogdon, Kelly. 2013. "Grounding: Necessary or Contingent?" Pacific Philosophical Quarterly no. 94:465-485.

    Abstract: "Recent interest in the nature of grounding is due in part to the idea that purely modal notions are too coarse-grained to capture what we have in mind when we say that one thing is grounded in another. Grounding not being purely modal in character, however, is compatible with it having modal consequences.

    Is grounding a necessary relation? In this article I argue that the answer is ‘yes’ in the sense that propositions corresponding to full grounds modally entail propositions corresponding to what they ground. The argument proceeds upon two substantive principles: the first is that there is a broadly epistemic constraint on grounding, while the second links this constraint with Fine’s Aristotelian notion of essence. Many think grounding is necessary in something like the sense specified above, but just why it’s necessary is an issue that hasn’t been carefully addressed. If my argument is successful, we now know why grounding is necessary."

  57. ———. 2013. "An Introduction to Grounding." In Varieties of Dependence: Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence, edited by Hoeltje, Miguel, Schnieder, Benjamin and Steinberg, Alex, 97-122. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.

    "There is a burgeoning literature on grounding. The primary goal of this chapter is to set out and clarify some of the central issues and disputes concerning this notion. In the course of the chapter I'll weigh in on certain positions, treat others as working assumptions, and remain neutral on others. In some cases philosophers either explicitly endorse or reject the positions I discuss, while in other cases the positions have yet to be discussed in any detail.

    The plan for the chapter is as follows. I begin by distinguishing two general approaches to grounding-on one our talk of grounding in philosophy is univocal, and on the other it isn't-and consider different ways in which each view might be further developed (§2). Then I consider the logical form of grounding statements as well as the tructural principles that govern grounding (§3-4). Next, I take up the matter of how the notions of grounding, modality, and reduction interact (§5-6). I close with a brief discussion of the grounds for what grounds what (§7)." (pp. 97-98)

  58. ———. 2015. "Placement, Grounding, and Mental Content." In The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophical Methods, edited by Daly, Chris, 481-496. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.

    "Introduction: One central issue concerning philosophical methodology is this: what concepts should go into our philosophical toolbox? That is to say, what notions are appropriate to rely on in doing philosophy? This issue is relevant not only to how we should go about addressing philosophical problems but also how we’re to formulate those problems in the first place. There is a burgeoning literature on the notion of grounding. I’m a proponent of grounding – I think the notion of grounding is coherent and theoretically useful. Supposing that the notion of grounding belongs in our philosophical toolbox, what consequences might this have for familiar philosophical problems? In this chapter I focus on what Jackson (1998) calls placement problems – problems concerning how the manifest facts (e.g. facts concerning ordinary macroscopic objects, the mental, and the moral) “fit into” the world given that the world is ultimately physical in nature.

    If we formulate placement problems in terms of grounding, we should expect new possibilities to open up with respect to how to solve them. My goal in this chapter is to show that this is precisely what happens with respect to the content placement problem, the problem of how to fit facts concerning mental content into the actual world given that it’s ultimately physical in nature." (p. 481, anote omitted)


    Jackson, F. 1998. From Metaphysics to Ethics. Oxford UP.

  59. ———. 2018. "Grounding-Mechanical Explanation." Philosophical Studies no. 175:1289-1309.

    Abstract: "I argue that there is an important similarity between causation and grounding. In particular I argue that, just as there is a type of scientific explanation that appeals to causal mechanisms—causal-mechanical explanation—there is a type of metaphysical explanation that appeals to grounding mechanisms—grounding-mechanical explanation. The upshot is that the role that grounding mechanisms play in certain metaphysical explanations mirrors the role that causal mechanisms play in certain scientific explanations. In this light, it becomes clear that grounding-mechanical explanations make crucial contributions to the evaluation of a variety of important philosophical theses, including priority monism and physicalism."

  60. ———. 2020. "Truthmaking." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 396-407. New York: Routledge.

    "Before getting into the details, I should note some of the assumptions I’m going to make about grounding and truthmaking. While each of these assumptions has been challenged in the literature, they strike me as reasonable starting points. As for regimentation, I assume that grounding and truthmaking claims are to be formulated with the predicates “grounds” and “makes true” rather than sentential connectives such as “because”.As for the ontological status of grounding and truthmaking, I assume that they’re relations ‘out there’ in the domain of our ontology rather being primitive pieces of ideology. As for their relata, I assume that something is a ground, a grounded entity, or a truthmaker only if it’s a fact, and something is made true only if it’s a proposition. I assume that facts and propositions are structured entities, where the former are worldly in that they lack concepts or modes of presentation as constituents, and the latter are representational in that they do have such constituents. Collections of one or more facts ground other facts, and collections of one or more facts make true propositions." (p. 396, anote omitted)

  61. Trogdon, Kelly, and Witmer, D. Gene. 2021. "Full and Partial Grounding." Journal of the American Philosophical Association no. 7:252-271.

    Abstract: "While controversy about the nature of grounding abounds, our focus is on a question for which a particular answer has attracted something like a consensus. The question concerns the relation between partial grounding and full grounding. The apparent consensus is that the former is to be defined in terms of the latter. We argue that the standard way of doing this faces a significant problem and that we ought to pursue the reverse project of defining full grounding in terms of partial grounding. The guiding idea behind the definition we propose is that full grounding is what happens when partial grounding works in a way that ensures that the grounded is nothing over and above the grounds. We ultimately understand this idea in terms of iterated nothing-over-and-above claims."

  62. Trueman, Robert. 2021. "Truthmaking, Grounding and Fitch’s Paradox." Analysis no. 81:270-274.

    Abstract: "Jago and Loss have recently used variations on Fitch's paradox to argue that every truth has a truthmaker, and that every fact is grounded. In this paper, I show that Fitch's paradox can also be adapted to prove the exact opposite conclusions: no truth has a truthmaker, and no fact is grounded. All of these arguments are as dialectically effective as each other, and so they are all in bad company."


    Jago M. 2020. A short argument for truthmaker maximalism. Analysis 80: 40-44.

    Loss R. forthcoming [2021]. There are no fundamental facts. Analysis 81: 32-39.

  63. Tsohatzidis, Savas L. 2015. "A Problem for a Logic of ‘Because’." Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logics no. 25:46-49.

    Abstract: "A problem is raised for the introduction rules proposed in Benjamin Schnieder’s (2011) ‘A logic for "because"', arising in connection with (a) inferences that the"rules should not, but do, validate and (b) inferences that the rules should, but do not, validate."


    Schnieder, B. (2011). A logic for ‘because’. The Review of Symbolic Logic, 4, 445–465.

  64. Tugby, Matthew. 2016. "What are Dispositional Properties?" In Reality Making, edited by Jago, Mark, 75-98. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Contents: List of Figures VII; List of Contributors VIII; Mark Jago: Reality-Making: Introduction 1; Martin Glazier: Laws and the Completeness of the Fundamental 11; Naomi Thompson: Metaphysical Interdependence 38; Jacek Brzozowski: Monism and Gunk 57; Matthew Tugby: What are Dispositional Properties? 75; Mark Jago: Essence and the Grounding Problem 99; Nicholas K. Jones: Object as a Determinable 121; Sonia Roca-Royes: Rethinking Origin Essentialism (for Artefacts) 152; Nathan Wildman: How (not) to be a Modalist About Essence 177; Index 197-200.

  65. ———. 2021. "Grounding Theories of Powers." Synthese no. 198:11187-11216.

    Abstract: "Necessitarianism, as we shall use the term, is the view that natural properties and causal powers are necessarily connected in some way. In recent decades the most popular forms of necessitarianism have been the anti-Humean powers-based theories of properties, such as dispositional essentialism and the identity theory. These versions of necessitarianism have come under fire in recent years and I believe it is time for necessitarians to develop a new approach. In this paper I identify unexplored ways of positing metaphysically necessary connections in nature, using the concepts of grounding and essential dependence. For example, I show that one could be a necessitarian by insisting that the properties of things necessarily ground their powers, and that one can maintain this while rejecting dispositional essentialism. Using different combinations of claims about grounding and essential dependence (or lack thereof), I map out a spectrum of new positions and compare them to previous theories of natural modality. Some of these positions are compatible with Humean metaphysics (given certain readings of Hume’s Dictum) while others are not. The overall aim of the paper is to provide a new metaphysical framework for understanding theories of powers and thereby launch a new necessitarian research programme."

  66. Turner, Jason. 2016. "Curbing Enthusiasm About Grounding." Philosophical Perspectives no. 30:366-396.

    "Metaphysics in the high old style is back in fashion, and this season’s favorite accessory is a relation philosophers are pleased to call metaphysical grounding.

    By ‘grounding’, the fashionistas do not intend merely the venerable project of trying to figure out how the ordinary appearances are settled by ultimate reality.

    They mean, instead, a very particular sort of metaphysical relation (or something like a relation) used to tie together the fundamental with the non-fundamental— a kind of priority relation that structures the world.

    Some stodgier critics have objected that metaphysics’ newfound enthusiasm for grounding is misguided, because the notion is in fact unintelligible: Talk of the alleged relation makes no sense, and metaphysicians have simply fooled themselves into thinking otherwise. I do not share this diagnosis—as far as I can see, talk of the relation makes perfect sense. But I too want to curb the discipline’s grounding-based enthusiasm. The enthusiasm has led many to make wild claims about grounding’s virtues, such as that we can use it to shield entities from Ockham’s razor. And it has led many to embark on grand grounding-theoretic projects, such as the search for its ‘logic’. I think many of these claims unfounded and projects unpromising: Grounding’s marketing campaign has made promises which, I will argue, it cannot deliver." (p. 366)

  67. Ujvári, Márta. 2020. "Metaphysical Explanation Separated from Grounding." Metaphysica no. 21:55-69.

    Abstract: Grounding is typically associated to metaphysical explanation on the basis of the explanatory role’s being characteristic of grounding as well. Some even say that all what metaphysical explanation does is tracking the grounding relation. However, recently Maurin has argued that grounding does not “inherit” its properties from metaphysical explanation and, consequently, we should be “separatists”. In this paper separatism will be defended from the perspective of metaphysical explanation thus giving a turn to the separatist strategy. In particular, the structural difference between grounding and metaphysical explanation will be pointed out as affecting also the explanatory function. It will be shown how dispositions and essentialist claims play different roles in the two theories.

    Lastly, it will be claimed that the two theories diverge on accounting for law-like and accidental generalizations. Provided these arguments are sound, there will be good reason to tell metaphysical explanation apart from grounding.


    Maurin, A. S. 2019. “Grounding and Metaphysical Explanation: it’s Complicated.” Philosophical Studies 176 (6): 1573–94

  68. Valore, Paolo. 2021. "A Proposed Taxonomy of Realism in Conceptual Frameworks." European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy no. 13:1-10.

    "One of the complications of a clear evaluation of different positions in metaphysics and ontology is discrepancy in terminology and variance, if not incongruity, of basic concepts associated to relevant notions. This is a common problem in philosophy, but it seems that it has been exacerbated in recent debates about different clusters of positions called “realism.”


    Evidently, a significant reconstruction of the various systems (not even of the most important authors) and the many possible foundations and justifications of “realism” is out of the scope of this paper (a well-done comprehensive synopsis of versions of “realism” can be easily found in several other papers and encyclopedia entries, for instance Miller 2019). Instead of trying to infer a definition of “realism,” as if by induction, from the countless pictures given by philosophers identifying (or identified by others) as “realists” in the history of philosophy or in a catalogue of current debates, here I offer a taxonomy provided by a conceptual analysis of the notion of “realism” in what I think are its sub-concepts, recognizing three different conceptual frameworks." (p. 2)


    Miller Alexander, (2019), “Realism,” in E. N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition).

  69. Väyrynen, Pekka. 2013. "Grounding and Normative Explanation." Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume no. 87:156-178.

    Abstract: "This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as ‘This act is wrong because/in virtue of ’ (where the blank is often filled out in non-normative terms, such as ‘it causes pain’). The familiar intuition that normative facts aren’t brute or ungrounded but anchored in non-normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non-normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation in normative explanations as the sort of ‘grounding’ relation that receives extensive discussion in recent metaphysics. I argue that this would help only under controversial assumptions about the nature of normative facts, and perhaps not even then. I won’t try to resolve the tension, but draw a distinction between two different sorts of normative explanations (one concerning ‘bearers’, the other concerning ‘sources’ of normativity) which helps to identify constraints on a resolution. One distinctive constraint on normative explanations in particular might be that they should be able to play a role in normative justification."

  70. von Solodkoff, Tatjana. 2012. "Straightening Priority Out." Philosophical Studies no. 161:391-401.

    Abstract: "In recent work, Louis deRosset (Philosophical Studies 149:73-97, 2010) has argued that priority theorists, who hold that truths about macroscopic objects can be metaphysically explained without reference to such things, cannot meet an independently motivated constraint upon good explanation. By clarifying the nature of the priority theorist's project, I argue that deRosseťs argument fails to establish its conclusion."


    deRosset, L. (2010). Getting priority straight. Philosophical Studies, 149, 73-97.

  71. Wallner, Michael. 2021. "The Ground of Ground, Essence, and Explanation." Synthese no. 198:1257-1277.

    Abstract: "This paper is about the so-called meta-grounding question, i.e. the question of what grounds grounding facts of the sort ‘φ is grounded in Γ ’. An answer to this question is pressing since some plausible assumptions about grounding and fundamentality entail that grounding facts must be grounded. There are three different accounts on the market which each answer the meta-grounding question differently: Bennett’s and deRosset’s “Straight Forward Account” (SFA), Litland’s “Zero-Grounding Account” (ZGA), and “Grounding Essentialism” (GE). I argue that if grounding is to be regarded as metaphysical explanation (i.e. if unionism is true), (GE) is to be preferred over (ZGA) and (SFA) as only (GE) is compatible with a crucial consequence of the thought that grounding is metaphysical explanation. In this manner the paper contributes not only to discussions about the ground of ground but also to the ongoing debate concerning the relationship between ground, essence, and explanation."

    "Versions of (GE) are discussed in Rosen (2010), Fine (2012) and Dasgupta (2014)." (p. 1258)


    Bennett, K. (2011). By our bootstraps. Philosophical Perspectives, 25, 27–41.

    Dasgupta, S. (2014). The possibility of physicalism. Journal of Philosophy, 111(9/10), 557–592.

    deRosset, L. (2013). Grounding explanations. Philosopher’s Imprint, 13(7), 1–26.

    Fine, K. (2012). Guide to ground. In F. Correia & B. Schnieder (Eds.), Metaphysical grounding: Understanding the structure of reality (pp. 37–80). Cambridge: CUP.

    Litland, J. E. (2017). Grounding ground. In K. Bennett & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Oxford studies in metaphysics (Vol. 10, pp. 279–315). Oxford: OUP.

    Rosen, G. (2010). Metaphysical dependence: Grounding and reduction. In B. Hale & A. Hoffmann (Eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, logic, and epistemology (pp. 109–136). Oxford: OUP.

  72. Wang, Jennifer. 2020. "Cause." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 300-311. New York: Routledge.

    "The notion of ground is often introduced as the metaphysical analogue of the notion of cause. For the most part, no more is said about the connection between the two notions, for instance, the extent of the analogy or whether theorizing about one notion might shed light on the other. But in recent literature, some philosophers have developed a sustained analogy between grounding and causation, with the end goal of showing that they present a unified phenomenon.Although there are other questions about the connection between grounding and causation, this chapter centers on the unification claim." (300, a note omitted)

  73. Werner, Jonas. 2020. "Plural Grounding and the Principle of Sufficient Reason." Analysis no. 80:90-95.

    "McDaniel (2019) presents a novel argument that aims to establish that the principle of sufficient reason fails if there is a contingent truth. It is a variant of an argument to the same conclusion that has been presented by van Inwagen 1983: 202–4. Van Inwagen’s argument has been shown to fail if the principle of sufficient reason is formulated as the thesis that every truth has a full ground (see e.g. Schnieder and Steinberg 2015). The crucial aspect of McDaniel’s new argument is that it employs a notion of plural grounding, with plural grounding allowing that ‘many facts can collectively ground many facts collectively’ (McDaniel 2019: 232). McDaniel defines that ‘a plurality of truths are contingently true if and only if at least one of them is contingently true’ (2019: 233) and he formulates the principle of sufficient reason as the thesis that ‘any plurality of contingent truths has a full ground’(2019: 232). I will henceforth use ‘(PPSR)’ (for ‘plural principle of sufficient reason’) to refer to this thesis." (p. 90)


    "General irreflexivity is an assumption that is needed for McDaniel’s argument against (PPSR) to work. If I have been successful in showing that (PPSR) only captures the spirit of the principle of sufficient reason if it is formulated in terms of a notion of plural grounding for which general irreflexivity fails, then I have rebutted McDaniel’s attack on the principle of sufficient reason." (p. 94)


    McDaniel, K. 2019. The principle of sufficient reason and necessitarianism. Analysis 79: 230–36.

    Schnieder, B. and A. Steinberg. 2015. Without reason? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96: 523–41.

    van Inwagen, P. 1983. An Essay on Free Will. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  74. ———. 2021. "Arbitrary Grounding." Philosophical Studies.

    First Online 10 July 2021.

    Abstract: "The aim of this paper is to introduce, elucidate and defend the usefulness of a variant of grounding, or metaphysical explanation, that has the feature that the grounds explain of some states of affairs that one of them obtains without explaining which one obtains. I will dub this variant arbitrary grounding. After informally elucidating the basic idea in the first section, I will provide three metaphysical hypotheses that are best formulated in terms of arbitrary grounding in the second section. The third section will be concerned with the relation between arbitrary grounding and non-arbitrary grounding. The fourth section will compare arbitrary grounding to two extant proposals in the literature."

  75. ———. 2022. The Modalities of Essence and Ground. Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann.

    Contents: Acknowledgements IX; 1. Introduction 1; 2. Immediate Minimal Grounds 19; 3. Constructing the Semantics 39: 4. Essence 75; 5. Necessity and Possibility 111; 6. Grounding 133; 7. Comparison and Conclusion 163; Final Remarks 175; Bibliography 177-183.

    "Introduction: In this first chapter I present the core idea of this book and lay out its structure. Furthermore, I introduce its main topics. I will start by painting a big picture of the view I want to develop in this work and I situate it in the present philosophical landscape. Afterwards, I will briefly discuss the central concepts of essence, grounding and metaphysical modality and I will specify the ways in which I will use them in the subsequent chapters. Finally, an overview of the following chapters will be provided.

    1.1 The Basic Idea

    In this book I develop and defend a unified semantic treatment of essence, grounding and metaphysical modality. Statements like “Socrates is essentially wise”, “Possibly the number of ducks in Hamburg is odd” and “Bob the ball is red grounds Bob the ball is coloured” can be modelled in the resulting semantics. It will take the form of a world semantics similar to the standard possible world semantics for metaphysical modality. One of its central features will be that not only possible worlds, but also impossible worlds - ways the world might not have been - are its semantic values. The smantics will be argued to shed light on the deep philosophical connections between three of the most important posits of contemporary metaphysics. It will be shown to bear relevance to some important and controversial issues regarding the relations between essence, ground and modality.

    The core idea standing in the background of my semantics is to model essences with accessibility-relations, relations that specify which worlds can see other worlds, metaphorically speaking. Essences modelled with accessibility-relations will be the sole primitive of the view to be developed. Accounts of grounding and metaphysical modality will be given in terms of essence." (p. 1)

  76. Whitcomb, Dennis. 2012. "Grounding and Omniscience." Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion no. Vol. 4:173-201.

    Abstract: "This chapter argues that omniscience is impossible and therefore that there is no God. The argument turns on the notion of grounding. The chapter begins by illustrating and clarifying that notion. It then lays out five claims, one of which is the claim that there is an omniscient being, and the other four of which are claims about grounding. It shows that these five claims are jointly inconsistent. It then argues for the truth of each of them, except the claim that there is an omniscient being. From these arguments it follows that there are no omniscient beings and thus that there is no God."

  77. Wigglesworth, John. 2018. "Grounding in Mathematical Structuralism." In Reality and its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality, edited by Bliss, Ricki Leigh and Priest, Graham, 217-236. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    "Conclusion:L We have argued for two grounding claims involving mathematical entities that are relevant to the mathematical structuralist: that the identity of a mathematical object is grounded in the identity of the structure it belongs to, and in the identities of other mathematical objects in that structure. This argument has proceeded by describing mathematical structures in terms of unlabelled graphs.With this account of structure to hand, we present standard identity conditions for objects in a structure and for structures themselves, which allow us to articulate the notion of the identity of a mathematical entity in the context of structuralism. We then interpret grounding claims involving these entities as claims about what happens in the space of possible mathematical structures. This is an interpretation which makes no reference to any particular systems or realizations that exemplify the structures in question. And so, unlike Linnebo’s account, it is an account of grounding that is available to both the ante rem and in re non-eliminativist structuralists. On this interpretation, we argue that the grounding claims are true.Their truth follows from, or is at least evidenced by, the truth of the relevant corresponding necessity claims, claims ranging over the space of possible mathematical structures." (p. 232)

  78. Wildman, Nathan. 2016. "How (not) to be a Modalist About Essence." In Reality Making, edited by Jago, Mark, 177-196. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Contents: List of Figures VII; List of Contributors VIII; Mark Jago: Reality-Making: Introduction 1; Martin Glazier: Laws and the Completeness of the Fundamental 11; Naomi Thompson: Metaphysical Interdependence 38; Jacek Brzozowski: Monism and Gunk 57; Matthew Tugby: What are Dispositional Properties? 75; Mark Jago: Essence and the Grounding Problem 99; Nicholas K. Jones: Object as a Determinable 121; Sonia Roca-Royes: Rethinking Origin Essentialism (for Artefacts) 152; Nathan Wildman: How (not) to be a Modalist About Essence 177; Index 197-200.

  79. Wilhelm, Isaac. 2020. "An Argument for Entity Grounding." Analysis no. 80:500-507.

    "According to those I will call ‘fact-only grounders’ (Rosen 2010 and Fine 2012), grounding only obtains between facts. Physical objects, abstract objects, events and other non-fact entities do not ground anything. According to those I will call ‘entity grounders’ (Schaffer 2009 and deRosset 2013), nonfact entities can serve as grounds. Facts can ground, but so can physical objects, abstract objects and perhaps other kinds of entities.

    In this paper, I give an argument in favour of entity grounding over fact only grounding. Put roughly, the argument is this: entity grounders can give a more unified, less disjunctive account of the grounds of identity facts than fact-only grounders. After presenting the argument, I consider some responses that fact-only grounders might give." (p. 500, a note omitted)


    deRosset, L. 2013. Grounding explanations. Philosophers’ Imprint 13: 1–26.

    Fine, K. 2012. Guide to ground. In Metaphysical Grounding, eds. F. Correia and B. Schnieder, 37–80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Rosen, G. 2010. Metaphysical dependence: grounding and reduction. In Modality, eds. B. Hale and A. Hoffmann, 109–35. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Schaffer, J. 2009. On what grounds what. In Metametaphysics, eds. D. Chalmers, D. Manley and R. Wasserman, 347–83. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  80. ———. 2021. "Grounding and Propositional Identity." Analysis no. 81:80-81.

    Abstract: "I show that standard grounding conditions contradict standard conditions for the identities of propositions."

  81. Williams, J. Robert G. 2012. "Requirements on Reality." In Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality edited by Correia, Fabrice and Schnieder, Benjamin, 165-185. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "My focus in this chapter is how revisionary we need to be about wider theory, in order to incorporate the minimal metaphysics.

    In Section 6.1 I outline a ‘Moorean’ epistemological challenge: that overly revisionary or error-theoretical theories of the world will not be reasonable to believe for those that start off with a fair share of common sense and a healthy respect for the testimony of best science. I outline two strategies for responding to this challenge by reconciling educated common sense and minimal metaphysics – ‘structured metaphysics’, in the mode of Fine and Schaffer, and the linguistic strategies favoured by Quine and contemporary fictionalists. Section 6.2 focuses on some familiar ‘representational’ strategies; and Section 6.3 develops my own favoured version of this strategy" (p. 165)

  82. Wilsch, Tobias. 2015. "The Nomological Account of Ground." Philosophical Studies no. 172:3293-3312.

    Abstract: "The article introduces and defends the Nomological Account of ground, a reductive account of the notion of metaphysical explanation in terms of the laws of metaphysics. The paper presents three desiderata that a theory of ground should meet: it should explain the modal force of ground, the generality of ground, and the interplay between ground and certain mereological notions. The bulk of the paper develops the Nomological Account and argues that it meets the three desiderata.

    The Nomological Account relies on two central notions: the notion of a ‘law of metaphysics’ and the notion of ‘determination via the laws’. The paper offers the constructional conception of the laws of metaphysics, on which the metaphysical laws are general principles that characterize construction–operations such as composition, constitution, or set-formation. The role of determination in the account is explained and some reductive approaches to the notion are sketched. The case for the Nomological Account presented in this article is also a case for the laws of metaphysics. Since the Nomological Account offers a promising approach to metaphysical explanation we should take the laws of metaphysics seriously."

  83. ———. 2016. "The Deductive-Nomological Account of Metaphysical Explanation." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 94:1-23.

    Abstract: "The paper explores a deductive-nomological account of metaphysical explanation: some truths metaphysically explain, or ground, another truth just in case the laws of metaphysics determine the latter truth on the basis of the former. I develop and motivate a specific conception of metaphysical laws, on which they are general rules that regulate the existence and features of derivative entities. I propose an analysis of the notion of ‘determination via the laws’, based on a restricted form of logical entailment. I argue that the DN-account of ground can be defended against the well-known objections to the DN-approach to scientific explanation. The goal of the paper is to show that the DN-account of metaphysical explanation is a well-motivated and defensible theory."

  84. ———. 2020. "Laws of Metaphysics." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 425-436. New York: Routledge.

    "If causal explanations are supported by general laws, non-causal explanation might be supported by general laws as well. Consider metaphysical explanations like ‘Peter the elephant is colored because he is grey’and ‘{Socrates} exists because Socrates exists’.These explanations might arise from general laws which entail that any grey object is also colored and that any object is the member of its singleton set (see Glazier’s entry “Ground and Explanation”, Chapter 8 in this volume).The role of such laws of metaphysics is to guide the bottom-up development of facts, much like the role of laws of nature is to govern facts along the temporal axis." (p. 425)

  85. Wilson, Alastair. 2018. "Grounding Entails Counterpossible Non‐Triviality." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 92:716-728.

    Abstract. "This paper outlines a non-reductive counterfactual account of grounding along interventionist lines, and uses the account to argue that taking grounding seriously requires ascribing non-trivial truth-conditions to a range of counterpossible counterfactuals. This result allows for a diagnosis of a route to scepticism about grounding, as deriving at least in part from scepticism about non-trivial counterpossible truth and falsity."

  86. ———. 2018. "Metaphysical Causation." Noûs no. 52:723-751.

    Abstract: "There is a systematic and suggestive analogy between grounding and causation. In my view, this analogy is no coincidence. Grounding and causation are alike because grounding is a type of causation: metaphysical causation. In this paper I defend the identification of grounding with metaphysical causation, drawing on the causation literature to explore systematic connections between grounding and metaphysical dependence counterfactuals, and I outline a non-reductive counterfactual theory of grounding along interventionist lines."

  87. ———. 2020. "Classifying Dependencies." In The Foundation of Reality: Fundamentality, Space, and Time, edited by Glick, David, Darby, George and Marmodoro, Anna, 46-68. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    "These days, metaphysical questions are frequently cast in terms of the ideology of grounding. This notion is usually introduced in explicit contrast to causation: ground is supposed to be a non-causal dependency relation that supports metaphysical explanations, just as causal relations support causal explanations. But the distinction between causation and grounding has never been very clear-cut, and recent work (Schaffer 2016; A. Wilson 2018a) has highlighted how deep the structural similarities between the notions run. Schaffer concludes that causation and grounding are merely closely analogous, whereas I have defended the more radical view that grounding is a specific type of causation; however, I set that heterodox view aside for the purposes of this chapter and proceed on the assumption that there is a coherent distinction to be drawn between the two notions." (p. 46)


    "First, Section 2.2 provides some relevant background on causation and grounding.

    Then in Sections 2.3-28 I examine six obvious criteria by which to distinguish these two notions. I argue that each of the criteria is problematic in some way or other, which motivates the search for a better criterion. In Section 2.9 I offer my own account of the distinction between grounding and causation in terms of how the dependency is mediated. This mediation criterion can explain the appeal of the next best candidate criteria—the temporal criterion and the modal criterion—without suffering from their problems. Section 2.10 provides further support for the mediation criterion by arguing that it makes the classification of dependencies in physics appropriately sensitive to the interpretation of the physical theories involved.

    Section 2.11 is a conclusion." (p. 47)

  88. Wilson, Jessica M. 2014. "No Work for a Theory of Grounding." Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy no. 57:535-579.

    Abstract: "It has recently been suggested that a distinctive metaphysical relation — ‘Grounding’—is ultimately at issue in contexts in which some goings-on are said to hold ‘in virtue of’’, be (constitutively) ‘metaphysically dependent on’, or be ‘nothing over and above’ some others. Grounding is supposed to do good work (better than merely modal notions, in particular) in illuminating metaphysical dependence. I argue that Grounding is also unsuited to do this work. To start, Grounding alone cannot do this work, for bare claims of Grounding leave open such basic questions as whether Grounded goings-on exist, whether they are reducible to or rather distinct from Grounding goings-on, whether they are efficacious, and so on; but in the absence of answers to such basic questions, we are not in position to assess the associated claim or theses concerning metaphysical dependence. There is no avoiding appeal to the specific metaphysical relations typically at issue in investigations into dependence—for example, type or token identity, functional realization, classical mereological parthood, the set membership relation, the proper subset relation, the determinable/determinate relation, and so on—which are capable of answering these questions. But, I argue, once the specific relations are on the scene, there is no need for Grounding."

  89. ———. 2016. "The Unity and Priority Arguments for Grounding." In Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground, edited by Aizawa, Ken and Gillett, Carl, 171-204. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

    " two recent papers, however, Jonathan Schaffer ( 2016 and this volume ) aims to develop a better version of the Unity argument, and off ers certain objections to my reasons for rejecting the Priority argument. In this paper, I consider and respond to these new motivations for Grounding. I start with some clarificatory remarks concerning the dialectical import of Grounding, its assumed relata, and how I take the ideology/ontology distinction to be relevant to the discussion; I then present and respond to Schaffer’s new versions of the Unity and Priority arguments." (p. 172)


    Schaff er, J. (this volume). Ground Rules: Lessons from Wilson.

    Schaff er, J. (2016). Grounding in the image of causation. Philosophical Studies, 173 , 49–100.

  90. ———. 2016. "Grounding-Based Formulations of Physicalism." Topoi no. 35:1-18.

    Abstract: "I problematize Grounding-based formulations of physicalism. More specifically, I argue, first, that motivations for adopting a Grounding-based formulation of physicalism are unsound; second, that a Grounding-based formulation lacks illuminating content, and that attempts to imbue Grounding with content by taking it to be a (nonmonotonic, hyperintensional) strict partial order are unuseful (since ‘over and above’ relations such as strong emergence may also be non-monotonic hyperintensional strict partial orders) and problematic (in ruling out reductive versions of physicalism, and relatedly, in undermining the ostensive definition of primitive Grounding as operative in any context where idioms of dependence are at issue); third, that conceptions of Grounding as constitutively connected to metaphysical explanation conflate metaphysics and epistemology, are ultimately either circular or self-undermining, and controversially assume that physical dependence is incompatible with explanatory gaps; fourth, that in order to appropriately distinguish physicalism from strong emergentism (physicalism’s primary rival), a Grounding-based formulation must introduce one and likely two primitives in addition to Grounding; and fifth, that understanding physical dependence in terms of Grounding gives rise to ‘spandrel’ questions, including, e.g., ‘‘What Grounds Grounding?’’, which arise only due to the overly abstract nature of Grounding."

  91. ———. 2016. "Metaphysical Emergence; Weak and Strong." In Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics, edited by Bigaj, Tomasz and Wüthrich, Christian 345-398. Leiden: Brill Rodopi.

    Abstract: "Motivated by the seeming structure of the sciences, metaphysical emergence combines broadly synchronic dependence coupled with some degree of ontological and causal autonomy. Reflecting the diverse, frequently incompatible interpretations of the notions of dependence and autonomy, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering varieties.

    Here I argue that much of this apparent diversity is superficial. I first argue, by attention to the problem of higher-level causation, that two and only two strategies for addressing this problem accommodate the genuine emergence of special science entities. These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schema for metaphysical emergence – ‘Weak’ and ‘Strong’ emergence, respectively. Each schema imposes a condition on the powers of (features of) entities taken to be emergent: Strong emergence (associated with British emergentism) requires that higher-level features have more token powers than their dependence base features, whereas (following Wilson 1999) Weak emergence (associated with non-reductive physicalism) requires that higher-level features have a proper subset of the token powers of their dependence base features. Importantly, the notion of ‘power’ at issue here is metaphysically neutral, primarily reflecting commitment just to the plausible thesis that what causes an entity may (perhaps only contingently) bring about are associated with how the entity is – that is, with its features."


    Wilson, J. (1999). How Superduper does a Physicalist Supervenience Need to Be? The Philosophical Quarterly 49, 33–52.

  92. Wirling, Ylwa Sjölin. 2020. "Is Backing Grounding?" Ratio no. 33:129-137.

    Abstract: "Separatists are grounding theorists who hold that grounding relations and metaphysical explanations are distinct, yet intimately connected in the sense that grounding relations back metaphysical explanations, just as causal relations back causal explanations. But Separatists have not elaborated on the nature of the ‘backing’ relation. In this paper, I argue that backing is a form of (partial) grounding. In particular, backing has many of the properties commonly attributed to grounding, and taking backing to be partial grounding allows Separatists to make the most of their position vis-à-vis their Unionist opponents."

  93. Witmer, D. Gene, Butchard, William, and Trogdon, Kelly. 2005. "Intrinsicality without Naturalness." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 70:326-350.

    Abstract: "Rae Langton and David Lewis have proposed an account of “intrinsic property” that makes use of two notions: being independent of accompaniment and being natural. We find the appeal to the first of these promising; the second notion, however, we find mystifying.

    In this paper we argue that the appeal to naturalness is not acceptable and offer an alternative definition of intrinsicality. The alternative definition makes crucial use of a notion commonly used by philosophers, namely, the notion of one property being had in virtue of another property. We defend our account against three arguments for thinking that this “in virtue of‘ notion is unacceptable in this context. We also take a look at a variety of cases in which the definition might be applied and defend it against potential counterexamples. The upshot, we think, is a modest but adequate account of what we understand by “intrinsic property.”"


    Langton, R. and Lewis, D. 1998. “Defining ‘Intrinsic’,’’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58, 333-45. Reprinted (1999) in Lewis’ Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

  94. Woods, Jack. 2017. "Emptying a Paradox of Ground." Journal of Philosophical Logic no. 47:631-648.

    Abstract: "Sometimes a fact can play a role in a grounding explanation, but the particular content of that fact make no difference to the explanation—any fact would do in its place. I call these facts vacuous grounds. I show that applying the distinction between-vacuous grounds allows us to give a principled solution to Kit Fine and Stephen Kramer’s paradox of (reflexive) ground. This paradox shows that on minimal assumptions about grounding and minimal assumptions about logic, we can show that grounding is reflexive, contra the intuitive character of grounds. I argue that we should never have accepted that grounding is irreflexive in the first place; the intuitions that support the irreflexive intuition plausibly only require that grounding be non-vacuously irreflexive. Fine and Kramer’s paradox relies, essentially, on a case of vacuous grounding and is thus no problem for this account."


    Fine, K. (2010). Some puzzles of ground. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, 51(1), 97–118.

    Krämer, S. (2013). A simpler puzzle of ground. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, 2(2), 85–89.

  95. Woodward, James. 2017. "Interventionism and the Missing Metaphysics." In Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays, edited by Slater, Matthew H. and Yudell, Zanja, 193-227. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "A number of philosophers with a metaphysical orientation have criticized Making Things Happen for its failure to provide an account of the metaphysical foundations or grounds or truth-makers for causal and explanatory claims. I originally attempted to write an ordinary paper responding to these criticisms but found this to be a very difficult undertaking: I realized that I disagreed with my critics about so much that putting everything into an ordinary “linear” argument was impossible.


    What follows is, I readily admit, a caricature that makes no attempt to be fair or balanced. Many of the philosophers I know who are analytical metaphysicians do not share the affect and attitudes of my Professor Metafisico, and many are far more knowledgeable about science.

    I hope that readers will take the dialogue in the spirit in which it is intended— as an attempt to be provocative and to raise in a sharp, unnuanced way some questions that deserve more attention than they have hitherto received. These include issues about just what metaphysical grounding consists in or amounts to, why (or when or for what purposes) it is required, and how providing metaphysical foundations relates to providing scientific explanations of a more ordinary empirical sort and to methodological concerns that at least in the past were regarded as an important component of philosophy of science. In particular, I want to raise the question of whether it is somehow obligatory that all philosophers of science do the sort of metaphysics associated with providing grounds or truth-makers or (as I maintain and hope) there are kinds of inquiry in philosophy of science having to do with methodology and the interpretation of the content of the particular scientific theories that can be pursued independently of the kinds of concerns that animate analytical metaphysicians." (pp. 193-194)


    James Woodward (2003). Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation, New York: Oxford University Press.

  96. Wygoda Cohen, Shlomit. 2020. "Not All Partial Grounds Partly Ground: Some Useful Distinctions in the Theory of Grounding." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 100:75-92.

    Abstract: "The aim of this paper is to argue for some useful distinctions in the theory of grounding. I do so by first introducing the notion of grounding, discussing some of its features, and arguing that grounds must play some role in bringing about what they ground (sec. 1). I then argue that there are various distinct roles a fact may play in bringing about another, and more particularly that we should distinguish between three such roles; enablers, partial grounds, and facts that partly ground (sec. 2). Finally, I present two theoretical advantages to incorporating these distinctions into our theory of grounding. Namely, that it reframes, and arguably dissolves, the contingentist-necessitarian debate (sec. 3), and that it helps to elegantly deal with the purported counterexamples to the transitivity of grounding and thus maintain the plausible elements of the assumption that grounding is a transitive relation (sec. 4)."

  97. Yablo, Stephen. 1982. "Grounding, Dependence, and Paradox." Journal of Philosophical Logic no. 11:117-137.

    "The idea that grounding is an important component of our intuitive notion of well-definedness has long formed part of the conceptual background axiomatic set theory.' Yet only in recent years have we come to appreciate how heavily grounding figures in our intuitions of semantical well- definedness. The culmination of this developing appreciation, for the present at least, is Kripke's celebrated Theory of Truth; and while it would be a mistake to say that Kripke's ideas came as a complete surprise to concerned semanticists, it would be."


    "The first purpose of this paper is to hasten the process by attempting to place some aspects of Kripke's work into formal and philosophical perspective. The second purpose has to do with my feeling that Kripke has only done half, albeit the first and therefore by far the most important half, of the The intuition of grounding is, I want to maintain, a two-sided intuition. the one side is what I'll call the inheritance aspect. (pp. 117-118)


    "This paper is divided into two parts, one theoretical and one (compara- tively) applied. Sections 2-7 deal with the development of dependence in an abstract setting. Our main result is that any collection with an inheritance- style characterization admits a canonically related dependence-style charac- terization. In Sections 8-10 we show in a series of applications how the dependence way of doing things can improve our understanding of truth, semantic level, and paradoxicality." (p- 119)

  98. Yip, Jack. 2015. "Truthmaking as an Account of How Grounding Facts Hold." Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy no. 29:11-32.

    Abstract: "Grounding, as a way to articulate ontological dependence, faces the problem of what grounds grounding facts themselves (such as the fact that the singleton of Socrates is grounded in Socrates).

    This problem stems from the need to account for the holding of grounding facts, which generates the hierarchical structure of ontological dependence. Within the grounding framework, grounding facts are either ungrounded or grounded. I will first argue that neither option can provide us with a satisfactory account. The main reason is that non-fundamental entities have to be counted as fundamental or involved in the essences of fundamental entities in order for either of the two options to work - the non-fundamental is being smuggled into the fundamental.

    My suggestion is to appeal to the notion of truthmaking and tackle the problem about the holding of grounding facts outside the grounding framework|instead of asking what grounds grounding facts, I ask what makes grounding claims true.

    Truthmaking is a prima facie relation holding between the representational and the non-representational such that the latter makes the former true. With the principle `if (p) is true, then it is a fact that p,' we can account for the holding of grounding facts in a derivative sense. As a proposition contains the information about its truthmaker, the nature of grounding claims will tell us how grounding facts hold. I accept a realm of concepts which make up propositions (which might be needed already if there are propositions and propositions are compositional). These concepts will act as part of the truthmaker for grounding claims (in addition to the non-conceptual fundamental entities) - the concept of the ground must figure in the concept of the grounded.

    For a concept to figure in another, it is to be involved in the constitutive essence of the latter (analogous to Kit Fine's idea that the ground of a grounded entity figures in the essence of the grounded entity). This account will not smuggle anything non-fundamental into the fundamental realm. The implication is that ontological dependence stems from our different kinds of conceptualisations (perhaps of the same stuff, as in the concepts of water and H2O), which justifies metaphysicians' armchair method."

  99. Zanetti, Luca. 2021. "Grounding and Auto-abstraction." Synthese no. 198:10187-10205.

    Abstract: "Abstraction principles and grounding can be combined in a natural way (Rosen in Hale B, Hoffmann A (eds) Modality: metaphysics, logic, and epistemology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 109–136, 2010; Schwartzkopff in Grazer philosophische studien 82(1):353–373, 2011). However, some ground-theoretic abstraction principles entail that there are circles of partial ground (Donaldson in Noûs 51(4):775–801, 2017).

    I call this problem auto-abstraction. In this paper I sketch a solution. Sections 1 and 2 are introductory. In Sect. 3 I start comparing different solutions to the problem. In Sect. 4 I contend that the thesis that the right-hand side of an abstraction principle is (metaphysically) prior to its left-hand side motivates an independence constraint, and that this constraint leads to predicative restrictions on the acceptable instances of ground-theoretic abstraction principles. In Sect. 5 I argue that auto-abstraction is acceptable unless the left-hand side is essentially grounded by the right-hand side. In Sect. 6 I highlight several parallelisms between auto-abstraction and the puzzles of ground. I finally compare my solution with the strategies listed in Sect. 3."

  100. Zimmermann, Alexander, Kleinknecht, Reinhard, and Dorn, Georg J. W. 2020. "Grounding from a Syntactic Point of View: A Sentential-Logical Approach." Erkenntnis.

    First online 3 March 2020.

    Abstract: "We define the term a set T of sentential-logical formulae grounds a sentential-logical formula A from a syntactic point of view in such a way that A is a syntactic sentential-logical consequence of T, and specific additional syntactic requirements regarding T and A are fulfilled. These additional requirements are developed strictly within the syntactics of sentential-logical languages, the three most important being new, namely: to be atomically minimal, to be minimal in degree, and not to be conjunction-like. Our approach is independent of any specific sentential-logical calculus."

  101. Zylstra, Justin. 2018. "The Essence of Grounding." Synthese no. 196:5137-5152.

    Abstract: "I develop a reduction of grounding to essence. My approach is to think about the relation between grounding and essence on the model of a certain concept of existential dependence. I extend this concept of existential dependence in a couple of ways and argue that these extensions provide a reduction of grounding to essence if we use sorted variables that range over facts and take it that for a fact to obtain is for it to exist. I then use the account to resolve various issues surrounding the concept of grounding and its connection with essence; apply the account to paradigm cases and to the impure logic of grounding; and respond to objections."

  102. ———. 2018. "Essence with Ground." Analytic Philosophy no. 59:193-207.

    "Many metaphysicians would like to have both essence and ground in their toolkit.(1) Applications of one concept often invoke the other.


    In this paper, I argue that the compatibility of essence and ground is not simply given. I do this by first giving a pentad of claims that plausibly govern the concepts of essence and ground, and how they interact. I argue that each claim in the pentad has independent albeit defeasible support but that they are jointly inconsistent. I then offer a way out of inconsistency by expanding our ideology: I introduce a non-factive operator that expresses the sort of thing an item is, in a distinctive sense of the term. The upshot is that we can make sense of the idea that something pertains to the essence of an item but involves contingency." (p. 193)

  103. ———. 2019. "Making Semantics for Essence." Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy no. 62:859-876.

    Abstract: "In this paper, I develop a truthmaker semantics for essence and use the semantics to investigate the explanatory role of essence."

  104. ———. 2020. "Essence." In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Raven, Michael J., 324-335. New York: Routledge.

    "Philosophers have recently explored various interesting relations between metaphysical grounding and essence, not all of which are compatible.


    The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of this literature. To achieve this aim in a systematic way, I divide the chapter into four sections. In the first section, I review the literature on essence. In the second section, I outline various reductive proposals: reductions of essence to ground, reductions of ground to essence, and reductions of both to a third party. In the third section, I outline various proposed entailments: entailments from essence to ground and entailments from ground to essence. In the fourth section, I outline how essence and ground have been jointly applied toward various theoretical ends." (p. 325)