Thomas Kivatinos (Auburn University). Causally Derivative Hierarchical Dependence
Thomas Kivatinos (Auburn University)

part of: CLE Permanent Seminar on Metaphysics
June 22, 2022, 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Centro de Lógica, Epistemologia, e História da Ciência, University of Campinas

Centro de Lógica, Epistemologia e História da Ciência, Rua Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, 251

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  • Support: grant #2021/11381-1, São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)


University of Campinas
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

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[All seminars] 17:00 to 18:30 pm (GMT+0):

Abstract: I defend the view that a sub-set of grounding relations are derivative of causal processes, and that this entails grounding pluralism: the view that grounding relations are not all of the same basic nature or type, for grounding relations fall into in a plurality of types that are inherently distinct. As I argue, scientific explanations that are “vertical” qualify as grounding explanations because they satisfy the telltale explanatory role of grounding explanations. And because grounding explanations are thought to track or pick out grounding relations, it follows that vertical scientific explanations pick out grounding relations. This, in conjunction with the leading account of vertical scientific explanation, entails that the grounding relations that are picked out by vertical scientific explanations are fundamentally distinct from those that are not so picked out. For as I argue, the leading account—that which stems from the “new mechanistic” conceptual framework—implies that the grounding relations picked out by vertical scientific explanations emerge and derive from causal processes, whereas other grounding relations do not. This difference between causally derivative and non-causally derivative categories of grounding, I suggest, marks a distinction between fundamentally distinct types of grounding that should not be treated as uniform in nature. For if all grounding relations were uniform in nature, then they would obtain in virtue of the same phenomena, and thus there would be a uniform explanation for why they all obtain. But this is not the case. Some grounding relations obtain in virtue of causal processes obtaining, whereas others do not. And the obtaining of some grounding relations can be explained by appeal to causal processes obtaining, whereas the obtaining of others cannot be so explained. The ramification of this is that a prevailing view about grounding—the view that grounding is a unified phenomenon—is mistaken.

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