Institut Jean Nicod

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Anna-Sofia Maurin (University of Gothenburg)

Conjointement avec le séminaire "Réalité et Représentation" (U. Kriegel)

Vendredi 9 octobre 2015 de 11h30 à 13h.
Institut Nicod, ENS, Pavillon Jardin, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris. Salle de réunion, RDC.

Anna-Sofia Maurin
Professor, Department of Philosophy, Linquistics, Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg.

Title: "Metaphysical Explanation"

‘Grounding’ is often introduced as – among other things – an explanatory relation. That it (or they, if there is more than one kind of grounding-relation) is explanatory is in fact commonly thought to be what distinguishes it from other, closely related, fundamental relations. And this, on at least one interpretation, means that, that it is explanatory is seen as a reason for thinking it exists. In my talk I want to explore more carefully what this means. In what sense, precisely, is grounding supposed to be explanatory? Following Daly (2005), let’s assume that we have two options. Either we travel down the way of emulation and try to find a view on explanation already in existence in terms of which the explanatoriness of grounding can be understood. Or we go down the way of innovation. This is the road much less travelled. Going down it means admitting that an entirely new kind of explanation – a kind of explanation that is interestingly and substantially different from all other kinds of explanation (for which we have theories) but still similar enough to warrant falling under the same ‘umbrella-term’ – must be accepted (and understood). In my talk I suggest – very tentatively – that, unfortunately, going down the way of emulation we are unlikely to succeed (at least given a restricted – but, I think, interesting – way of understanding the claim that grounding relations are explanatory). Therefore, either we go down the road of innovation, or we stop saying (and thinking) that grounding is an explanatory relation. As I suspect that their being explanatory is the ‘raison d’être’ for grounding-relations, and as a (kind-of) fan of grounding I therefore root for innovation. I end my talk with some speculative reasons for thinking that innovation may be justified.