An explanatory idealist theory of grounding

David Mark Kovacs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How is grounding related to metaphysical explanation? The standard view is that the former somehow “backs”, “undergirds” or “underlies” the latter. This view fits into a general picture of explanation, according to which explanations in general hold in virtue of a certain elite group of “explanatory relations” or “determinative relations” that back them. This paper turns the standard view on its head: grounding doesn't “back” metaphysical explanation but is in an important sense downstream from it. I call this view “grounding idealism”, since it structurally resembles an analogous view about causation that is known as “causal idealism” and has been endorsed by philosophers like Michael Scriven and Philip Kitcher. I formulate a specific version of grounding idealism, Metaphysical Explanation-First Idealism (MEFI), according to which the semantic value of ‘grounding’ is an abundant, gerrymandered relation settled by the metaphysical explanation facts. Then I offer some theoretical considerations that support MEFI over rival accounts of the relation between grounding and metaphysical explanation. Finally, I address the question of what role is left for grounding to play, if not that of “backing” metaphysical explanations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-553
Number of pages24
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation2035/19


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