Tobias Alexius: "Metaphysical Liberalism Absent Fundamentality"

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Tobias Alexius, Uppsala universitet: "Metaphysical Liberalism Absent Fundamentality"

Metaphysics is partly concerned with finding answers to questions of the form ‘why Φ ↔ Ψ?’  where Φ and Ψ are statements whose contents are connected in some strong metaphysical sense. Call such statement-pairs ‘M-pairs’. The following are typically (but not universally) considered M-pairs,

1) There are horses.
2) There are particles arranged horse-wise.

3) x has certain normative properties.
4) x has certain natural properties.

5) x has conscious experiences.
6) x’s nervous system displays certain patterns of activity.

7) Line a is parallel to line b.
8) The direction of a = the direction of b.

Letting Φ and Ψ stand for the individual statements in any of the above pairs, the question ‘why Φ ↔ Ψ?’ is naturally interpreted as a question about the metaphysical relationship between horses and particles arranged horse-wise, between normative and natural properties, between conscious experiences and neuronal activity, between parallelism and directions. In this paper, I am concerned precisely with how to best understand this metaphysical relationship. I argue that two of the prevailing options in the literature, the first being to understand the relation in terms of some sort of metaphysical dependence (e.g. grounding, ), the second being to understand it in terms of identity, are inferior to the view that the relation is a symmetrical relation of ‘nothing over and aboveness’ (‘NOA’). On the resulting view, the answer as to why e.g. (1) ↔ (2) is that the existence of horses is NOA the existence of particles arranged horse-wise and vice versa. An important upshot of this view is that we can commit to large numbers of facts/entities and achieve metaphysical parsimony, without having to posit fundamentality hierarchies among the facts/entities.