What is it about?

The paper is a polemic against associating too closely metaphysical explanation to grounding. The following reasons are elaborated on: i) while the structure of the grounding relation is linear since it is based on priority connections, metaphysical explanation admits various non-linear structures due to its reliance on various logical, conceptual relations and a whole network of dependency relations; ii) the metaphysical truths about the nature of the kinds of things and the modes how these truths manifest themselves cannot be accounted for by registering the fact that these truths obtain in virtue of some other truths; iii) it is admitted by grounding people that accidental generalizations are also grounded in their instances together with the Armstrongian totality fact about these instances. However, metaphysical explanation is modally sensitive and is able to discriminate between law-like and accidental generalizations due to its drawing on the kind-essences operative in the laws of nature; iv) manifested dispositions function as vehicles for the kind-essences targeted by metaphysical explanations. By compare, dispositions within the grounding-framework function only as particular instances of the general grounding relation. The characterization of the grounding relation by its advocates is taken at its face value. The main point is to argue for separatism from the perspective of metaphysical explanation.

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Why is it important?

Explanation via essences is not quite the same as telling what obtains in virtue of those essences. Conflating these two different concerns would very much look like a case of genetic fallacy. It seems important to save metaphysical explanation from committing a kind of genetic fallacy and thereby giving up its special metaphysical profile.


The paper is motivated by an essentialist, anti-reductive stance of mine. This stance is not strictly Aristotelian; rather, it presupposes the creative application, in contemporary contexts, of some Aristotelian doctrines. The separation of essentialist metaphysical truths from logical-modal truths is an example for such fruitful application.

Márta Ujvári
Corvinus University of Budapest, Institute of Sociology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Metaphysical Explanation Separated from Grounding, Metaphysica, April 2020, De Gruyter,
DOI: 10.1515/mp-2019-0009.
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