In a couple of weeks I’ll be going to the Northern Institute of Philosophy in Aberdeen for the second annual Early Career Conference. I was one of the lucky few to get accepted to this conference which looks to be amazing. It features a bunch of early career philosophers, many of whom I know from before, and Jennifer Saul and Peter Graham as keynotes. What makes this conference particularly desirable is that the accepted papers will be invited to be published in the NIP journal Thought, which publishes short papers in analytic philosophy, Analysis style. Because of this, I expect that the quality of the papers to be presented will be exceptionally high for a conference.
My own paper is entitled ‘Truth-Grounding and Transitivity‘. It’s a nice little paper, but rather more focused (and shorter) than I’m usually in the habit of writing. I wrote it very quickly though, only a couple of months ago, so this must be the quickest case of writing to publication that I’ve experienced so far.
I define ‘truth-grounding’ as follows:
(TG) If the fact that q exists helps ground the fact that p is true, then q helps ground the truth of p, i.e. q is a (partial) truth-ground for p.
The gist of the paper is that I argue that one of the following must be true:
- Grounding is non-transitive.
- Truth-grounding is not grounding.
- ‘Grounding’ is not univocal: there are several varieties of grounding.
Since grounding is generally considered to be irreflexive, asymmetric, and transitive, the first would be controversial. So would the second, because truth-grounding (or truthmaking), is a typical example of grounding. The third, however, is perhaps the most undesirable, since it would seem to corroborate recent claims about the multiplicity or even incoherence of ‘grounding’, making it an ambiguous expression. Hence, only three options remain: (1), (2), or the combination of them. I don’t attempt to decide between the options in this paper, but if I’m right, it’s important to sort out this issue. The core of the issue is what I call ‘truth-grounding relevance’:
(TGR) If the fact that q is not relevant to the truth of proposition p, then it is not the case that q helps ground the truth of p.
I suggest that TGR is violated in the transitive ‘chaining’ of certain grounding claims. Whether or not the case I examine constitutes a valid grounding claim, there are reasons to think that it does not constitute a valid truth-grounding claim, which gives rise to the tension described above.
Get the full paper from PhilPapers or directly from my website. Comments are very welcome, since I expect to have a chance to make revisions before the full version is published. In particular, the notion of ‘relevance’ that I discuss in this paper requires further work, even though I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to say much more about it in this paper. Each paper will have a dedicated commentator at Aberdeen as well though, so I’m very much looking forward to the conference!