On What (In General) Grounds What

Metaphysics. 2020;2(1):73-87 DOI 10.5334/met.18


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Metaphysics

ISSN: 2515-8279 (Online)

Publisher: Ubiquity Press

Society/Institution: Canadian Metaphysics Collaborative

LCC Subject Category: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion: Speculative philosophy: Metaphysics

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

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Kevin Richardson (North Carolina State University)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 19 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

A generic grounding claim is a grounding claim that isn’t about any particular entity or fact. For example, consider the claim: an act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness. One natural idea is that generic grounding claims state mere regularities of ground. So if an act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness, then every possible right act is right in virtue of maximizing happiness. The generic claim generalizes over particular grounding relations. In this essay, I argue that this simple story is wrong. Generic grounding claims are not merely quantificational; rather, they express real definitions, where real definitions are (in part) claims about essence. My view has two major upshots: ('i') it makes better sense of debates where generic grounding claims are at issue (like debates about moral laws); ('ii') it clarifies the distinction between reductive and non-reductive metaphysical theories.