Thought ISSN 2161-2234
In Defense of the (Moderate) Disunity
Jon Erling Litland
University of Texas at Austin
Fine (2012) is a pluralist about grounding. He holds that there are three fundamentally distinct
notions of grounding: metaphysical, normative, and natural. Berker (2017) argues for monism on
the grounds that the pluralist cannot account for certain principles describing how the distinct
notions of grounding interact. is paper defends pluralism. By building on work by Fine (2010)
and Litland (2015) I show how the pluralist can systematically account for Berker’s interaction
Keywords grounding; normative grounding; asymmetry
A monist about grounding holds that there is a single fundamental grounding relation; a
pluralist holds that there are several fundamentally distinct grounding relations.
paper I do two things. First, I defend the moderate pluralism of Fine (2012) from two
challenges recently presented by Berker (2017). Second, I show that the pluralist’s most
basic grounding relations are not asymmetric.
1 Pluralism: What and why?
We will understand two relations to be fundamentally distinct when neither relation
can be dened in terms of the other, and there is no plurality of distinct relations in
terms of which they can both be dened.
A pluralist holds that there are at least two
fundamentally distinct grounding relations. Fine is a moderate pluralist; he holds that
there are three fundamentally distinct grounding relations—metaphysical, normative,
and natural grounding.
between metaphysical and normative grounding; the points made carry over to natural
grounding. For the remainder of the paper “pluralism” will mean moderate pluralism.
rehearse one of Fine’s main motivations for pluralism—leaving room for nonreductive
defended here does justice to this motivation.
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Thought 7 (2018) 97–108 © 2018 The Thought Trust and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 97