Kind-Dependent Grounding

15 Jun 2018

Abstract. Are grounding claims fully general in character? If a is F in virtue of being G, does it follow that anything that’s G has to be F for that reason? According to the thesis of Weak Formality, the answer is ‘yes’. In this paper, however, I argue that there is philosophical utility in rejecting this thesis. More exactly, I argue that two outstanding problems in contemporary metaphysics can be dealt with if we maintain that there can be cases of ‘kind-dependent grounding’, and, moreover, that once we allow for the possibility of such cases (in order to solve these problems), we must also hold that Weak Formality is false. The paper turns crucially on two main ideas, viz. (a) that each object instantiates a fundamental kind, which can determine certain of the properties it can have, and (b) that grounding relations can hold conditionally. As we will see, it is only in light of these two ideas that we can make sense of the notion of kind-dependent grounding that is central to this paper.