Grounding & Causality

This sub-project, lead by Prof. Marcel Weber at the University of Geneva, focuses on scientific grounding. The topic is a newcomer to the philosophy of science literature, and has several, still unexplored implications. By taking causation and causal explanation as a useful contrast, the subproject focusses on the following issues:

  • (SPB1) Grounding and explanation: Is there a useful form of grounding explanation in science? If so, how does it work, and what distinguishes it from other forms of explanation, such as causal explanation? Our hunch is that grounding explanation works by making explicit certain constraints on the explanandum, which have a stronger modal force than the explanandum itself.
  • (SPB2) Grounding and causality: What grounds causal relations? We take interventionist and mechanistic accounts of causality as revealing grounds for causation that are not fundamental and thus have further grounds. We will investigate if those grounds may be found in the (dispositional) essence of things, and how the relation between essence and causation may be spelled out.
  • (SPB3) Grounding and biological functions: Drawing on the results of the previous subprojects we aim to answer the question, what grounds (biological) functions? Functions do not merely depend on their subvenient structural properties. Our intuition is that their (full) ground is a coherent set of capacities, which provide the best explanation for an organism’s capacity to reproduce.