On What (In General) Grounds What



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.


groundingessencefundamentalitymoral lawsmetaphysics
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 73-87
  • DOI: 10.5334/met.18
  • Submitted on 30 Jan 2019
  • Accepted on 15 Oct 2019
  • Published on 9 Jan 2020
  • Peer Reviewed