Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Coherentism, Explanation, Fundamentality, Grounding, Understanding
Arts and Humanities | Epistemology | Metaphysics | Philosophy
I defend metaphysical coherentism, according to which reality is an interdependent network, system, or web, held together by a relation philosophers call "metaphysical explanation" or "grounding". If coherentism is true, nothing is ungrounded, things ground each other, and understanding what it is to be any given thing – a tree, a house, or a person – is grasping how it fits in: how it grounds and is grounded by its environment.
Coherentism is inconsistent with a widely-accepted, orthodox view of grounding, according to which certain fundamental facts about reality asymmetrically determine everything else. In Chapter 1, I argue that this view is not supported by any compelling argument,but merely assumed.
In Chapter 2, I argue that explanation should be our guide to ground. In other words, I argue that claims about the total distribution of explanations may serve as premises in arguments for conclusions about grounding. I argue, in particular, that instances in which things explain each other are proof of the fact that things ground each other.
In Chapter 3, I argue for coherentism from understanding. To understand, I argue, is to recognize coherence, interconnection, and, generally, how things stand with respect to each other. We understand by grasping the complex weaving-together of relationships. Coherentism, I maintain, best accounts how we may, by discerning what grounds what, come to genuinely understand our world.
In Chapter 4, I pursue an intramural debate among varieties of metaphysical coherentism. I argue that the core features of coherentism are compatible with many different intuitions about the nature of reality, and that the view can take many different forms.
Swiderski, Jan, "Metaphysical Coherentism" (2022). Dissertations - ALL. 1470.