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Jessica, thanks for sharing this explanation of these aspects of your work. As someone not working in metaphysics but with some knowledge of it, I am somewhat familiar with the theses you describe but hadn't realized you defended them prior to Shoemaker.

I hope the future literature will take note. And perhaps some authors who have referenced some of these views without citing you (I'm sure most of them quite unwittingly) will at least post a correction to their websites along with the original papers.

Jessica Wilson

Thanks, GH; appreciate the suggestion.

A philosopher who knows the literature well

I am perplexed by Professor's Wilson's assertion that her 1999 article "deserves" to be acknowledged as "certainly in on the ground floor" in encouraging "a ‘metaphysical turn’ in understanding dependence relations".

As is well known to others that have contributed to this literature, this point has been made repeatedly well before the author's 1999 publication. Among many other places, and just limiting ourselves to literature on the metaphysics of mind, one can find it made repeatedly in the work of Jaegwon Kim (1973, 1993, 1994). So it is at best unclear to me why Wilson (1999) is "certainly in on the ground floor" as opposed to the many, many other articles following Kim's that make the same point.

Moreover, I am aware of no one who claims that Fine, Schaffer, and Rosen were the *initiators* of this 'metaphysical turn' in understanding the relevant varieties of dependence. Indeed, one of the main arguments that Fine, Schaffer, and Rosen have given for taking this 'metaphysical turn' seriously is that it can be found, either explicitly or implicitly, in so much philosophy before. Rather, what has been claimed is that these philosophers were *influential* in provoking people to take this 'metaphysical turn' seriously. That's a very different claim, and nearly incontestable.

I believe that this blog could do a good service to our profession. But I also believe that this service would be severely undermined were it to become a sounding board for people to unilaterally commandeer an underserved role in the intellectual history of our discipline without the opportunity for critical discussion.

Marcus Arvan

A philosopher...: Obviously, I will let Jessica reply to your critique on her own behalf. However, I would like to address the tail end of your comment, as it raises a question about how the blog could become a sounding board "unilaterally comandeered" to give people "an underserved [sic] role in the intellectual history of our discipline without the opportunity for critical discussion."

This blog is not a place for anyone to unilaterally commandeer anything. It is place for people to (1) present, and (2) critically discuss arguments for and against claims of under-citation/crediting in the literature. Jessica has made a case that her work has been under-recognized. You and others are free to argue to the contrary. It is then up to readers--and, I hope they are many in the discipline--to decide who has the stronger case.

This is how I think this blog promises to contribute positively to profession. All it aims to do is provide a forum for public debate about these matters--something that, unfortunately, our discipline has more or less lacked until now.

Jessica Wilson

It's certainly true that I was not the first to note that modal relations and/or explanatory relations are not sufficient for characterizing broadly synchronic dependence. Indeed, in my 1999 I cite several authors (including Schiffer and Horgan) as making the point about supervenience, and I cite Kim (1993) as making the point that "we should look for an objective metaphysical relation between P and M, not an essentially epistemic relation like explanation; that is, we should view the explanatory relation between the two properties as being supported by a metaphysical realization relation".

However, Horgan's alternative to supervenience was in underspecified terms of 'robust ontological explanation" which did not rule out robustly emergent higher-level features, and Kim did not provide any account of what the metaphysical relation between higher- and lower-level features was supposed to be (beyond identity, as per his preferred solution to the problem of mental causation). Nor did these authors or anyone else of whom I'm aware highlight in an explicit fashion, as I did, that neither modal nor explanatory relations were going to do the trick, and then offer a properly metaphysical notion that did do the trick.

Moreover, my article was the first to identify a systematic, comprehensive metaphysical basis for characterizing the three main contenders so far as (seeming) higher-level dependence was concerned (emergence->new power; reductive realization->improper subset of powers; non-reductive realization->proper subset of powers), and to provide (in that paper and elsewhere) arguments that key and common to a wide variety of diverse accounts of these dependence relations is that they (aim to) satisfy the conditions on powers at issue.

I also deny that people have not been presenting Fine, Schaffer, and Rosen as having initiated a metaphysical turn in dependence relations. Hence, for example, Michael Raven says in his review of Correia and Schnieder's anthology, "until very recently, contemporary philosophy ignored ground. Even the post-positivist metaphysical revival ushered in by Strawson, Kripke, Lewis, Armstrong, Fine, van Inwagen, and others largely bypassed ground. Current interest in ground traces to Fine (2001), as well as Schaffer (2009) and Rosen (2010). Their landmark essays initiated and set the agenda for ground's recent revival."

Indeed, the early papers of these authors suggests that they see themselves as initiating a metaphysical turn; see my 'No Work for a Theory of Grounding' for further discussion. For example, Schaffer talks of the 'dominant' Quinean paradigm, and says that he will argue for "the revival of a more traditional Aristotelian view"; Rosen says that "the general tendency is to admit [idioms of metaphysical dependence] for heuristic purposes, where the aim is to point the reader’s nose in the direction of some philosophical thesis, but then to suppress them in favor of other, allegedly more hygienic formulations when the time comes to say exactly what we mean", then says "I suggest that with a minimum of regimentation these metaphysical notions may be rendered clear enough"; Fine says that "[R]eduction should be construed as a metaphysical rather than as a linguistic or a semantical relation. […] we need to restore ourselves to a state of metaphysical innocence in which reduction is seen to concern the subject-matter itself and not the means by which it might be represented or cognized".

In any case, I'm on board with the general sentiments here, and if people want to see there as having been a metaphysical turn, that's fine with me. My point is that I made very similar points in 1999, and then went on to offer a specific account of what was key to such dependence---just like Fine, Schaffer, and Rosen. So if they are credited with initiating a metaphysical turn, then so should I be.

And BTW, no fair--especially in the context where we are trying to correct for the role of implicit bias in citations---in saying, 'Hey, even though you were on the ground floor in specifically flagging that modal and explanatory relations aren't sufficient unto characterizing metaphysical dependence, people don't need to cite you in this respect since you weren't as influential in getting people to pay attention to metaphysical dependence'!

A philosopher who knows the literature well

Hi Marcus,

Thank you for your response. It seems, then, that it would be useful to revise the blog's mission statement a bit.

As it's currently stated, its goal is to provide "a forum for people to bring to light and help rectify systematic citation and credit-giving problems in academic philosophy".

Yet this is goal is not equivalent to what you now say is a further goal of the blog: to "provide a forum for public debate about these matters", one that involves presenting and critically discussing arguments for or against claims that that an author and/or article have not been given due credit.

Indeed, not only are the two goals non-equivalent; pursuing one of the goals does not entail--and one might argue may be undermined by--pursuing the other.

That said, I again applaud your bringing this important issue to the attention of the profession. I hope you'll take my suggestion to be more clear about these matters as a friendly, constructive one.

A philosopher who knows the literature well

Hi Professor Wilson,

Many thanks for your response; that is indeed helpful. There is a lot I want to say in reply, but for the time being I'd like to make just one comment about your citation of Raven. (Speaking of which, Marcus: I thought this forum was *not* supposed to become "a forum for allegations against specific individuals, articles, etc."?)

When read in context, the Raven quote just doesn't support what you say it does. As Raven says earlier in the review, by "ground" he has in mind a very specific conception of metaphysical dependence: roughly, what you call 'big-G' grounding in "No Work for a Theory of Grounding".

And indeed, as you yourself note on page 5 of this article ("[t]o be sure, the suggestion that there is a distinctive relation or relations of Grounding is new"), there is no denying that Fine, Rosen, and Schaffer "initiated and set the agenda for ground's recent revival" in that specific sense.

So it is simply a misinterpretation of what Raven means by "ground" to read him as making a claim about relations of metaphysical dependence in general, rather than a very narrow--and as you well know, very controversial--conception of what unifies or underlies these relations.

I believe a similar mistake is being made in how you interpret the quotes by Fine, Rosen, and Schaffer you offer as further evidence; but I'll just leave it at that.

Marcus Arvan

A philosophy: I've just read Jessica's comment two more times, and I do not see anything remotely resembling an "allegation." What I do see is a substantive criticism by Jessica of a statement Raven made in a survey paper. Surely substantive claims in papers are fair game for critique, and do not comprise any sort of allegation (of impropriety)--though I will reword the Mission Statement to make this clearer. Substantive critiques of particular authors' works/claims should surely be fair game. *Allegations* of impropriety should not be.

Jessica Wilson

Thinking more about citation issues pertaining to metaphysical dependence in the Grounding literature... a more perspicuous approach would be (would have been) for these discussions to first observe that, for some time now, philosophers have been increasingly aware that neither purely modal nor purely explanatory (much less causal) relations were up to the task of characterizing (broadly synchronic) metaphysical dependence (here cite all the people who made these observations starting in the 80's, including Schiffer, Horgan, Kim, Heil, Wilson, etc.), and next to observe that, broadly in response, a number of metaphysical accounts of dependence have been proposed (here cite all the people who proposed accounts of metaphysical dependence, including all those functionalists, Yablo, Wilson, Shoemaker, constitution a la Baker, those appealing to mereology, etc.---and here I would also include those advancing accounts in terms of type and/or token identity).

With this history properly tracked, what was/is being proposed by proponents of Grounding could be more accurately situated, as, e.g., the proposal that a primitive notion of Grounding is needed since the various 'small-g' notions can't do the trick (note that this would have taken considerable argument, as opposed to the bare claim one finds in Rosen: "[T]here is no prospect of a reductive account or definition of the grounding idiom: We do not know how to say in more basic terms what it is for one fact to obtain in virtue of another. So if we take the notion on board, we will be accepting it as primitive"), or the proposal that even though the small-g notions can do the trick of characterizing metaphysical dependence, there is good reason nonetheless to posit a more abstract or determinable notion of Grounding (which is close to what Schaffer is arguing for in recent papers).

So, yes, I agree (and as 'A Philosopher...' notes, make explicit in my 'No Work...' paper) that there is a notion of Grounding as either primitive or highly abstract that is new. But in the original papers the motivation for Grounding is introduced along the following lines: metaphysicians haven't been paying attention to dependence, or if they have, it has been only in terms of modal or broadly representational notions; but modal/representational notions aren't sufficient to characterizing dependence; so let's posit a primitive or distinctively abstract notion of Grounding. Among other problems, that line of thought fails to accurately present what is really being proposed, and glosses over a great deal of literature.

Michael J. Raven

I’m sympathetic to the concerns raised here about citation practices, and encourage further discussion about it. Appropriating Williamson’s oft-appropriated words: we all must do better (me too!).

That said, I was surprised to find my words used in this context. I had not anticipated that they might be interpreted to help perpetuate a misimpression of the state of the art that marginalizes others’ contributions. I did not intend such an interpretation. Nor do I endorse it. And, now that I am more sensitive to the matter, I will strive not to encourage it further in future writings.

Whether or not an allegation of impropriety has been directed at me (or is lurking under the surface), I would like to clarify what I had in mind when I wrote what I wrote (which largely corresponds to what “A philosopher…” said at 10:34am).

There is a venerable tradition in philosophy concerned with a wide-range of priority or dependence relations, fundamentality, and the like. That tradition survived the positivist era and began to flourish again in the metaphysical revival that followed it, before Fine/Rosen/Schaffer.

But there is also a more recent trend concerned with a distinctive kind of priority or dependence relation: ground. This trend has adopted various working hypotheses, including: that there is such a notion, that it is worthy as a subject of study in its own right, and that it makes sense to debate what its features are.

Others have recognized something like the distinction between the tradition and the trend (I see Jessica’s “small g”/”big G” distinction as being in this vein). No doubt, the tradition and the trend are entangled in various ways. But one difference between them is the trend’s emphasis on ground itself as a subject of study in its own right, not just a means by which to articulate more pressing matters.

When I wrote that the post-positivist metaphysical revival largely bypassed ground, what I meant was that it largely bypassed the concerns of the trend (as opposed to the tradition!). That trend (not the tradition!) is indeed rather new. While its concerns were “in the air”, the trend’s (not the tradition’s!) quick rise to prominence is substantially (not exclusively!) traceable to the influence of Fine/Rosen/Schaffer.

Jessica Wilson

Hi Michael, of course no allegations of impropriety were intended or lurking in my flagging your text---I just used that as illustrative of what has been a not-uncommon tendency to present attention to metaphysical dependence as somehow a new addition on the scene.

Now, both you and 'A philosopher...' seem to want to object to my claim that the literature on Grounding frequently fails to appropriately track existing first- and second-order work on metaphysical dependence, by pointing to the agreed-upon claim that the posit of a primitive/highly abstract notion of Grounding is new.

But that there is such a novel conception of metaphysical dependence doesn't get the literature off the hook for not attending to all the existing first- and second-order literature on metaphysical dependence.

Again, the presented motivations in the foundational papers are *not* that, (Claim 1) while it is commonly accepted that dependence needs to be understood in properly metaphysical terms, all of the existing small-g notions of metaphysical dependence rely on a primitive notion of Grounding, or (Claim 2) while it is commonly accepted that dependence needs to be understood in properly metaphysical terms, there is *moreover* a single highly abstract notion of Grounding underlying all the small-g notions. The closest we come to either Claim is in Schaffer's suggestion that there's terminological and formal reason to interpret the idioms of dependence as tracking a unified notion.

Now, as attention to Grounding has progressed, it is emerging that these are in fact the main motivations for positing Grounding. So, for example, in my paper I present and respond to an argument (due to personal communication with Kit Fine, Alex Jackson, and others) for Grounding being needed to fix the direction of priority of the small-g notions, and respond to Schaffer's unity-based motivations for Grounding (which he and I are in continued debate about).

But, importantly, this clarification of what exactly is new about Grounding is post-hoc. Again, the dialectic by which Grounding is introduced is one which jumps quickly from failure of supervenience and other empiricist-friendly conceptions of dependence to the need for a primitive or distinctive notion of Grounding.

I think all this is a really great case-in-point of how failure to properly attend to (read! cite! discuss!) the literature can result in considerable confusion about what is really at issue in a given debate.

In particular: supposing my argument against Fine's p.c. suggestion is right, and a primitive notion of Grounding is not needed to fix the direction of priority of the small-g notions, then all that the hoopla comes to (no offence intended to proponents of Grounding, BTW, who are excellent philosophers and people, one and all) is the question: is there, in addition to all the perfectly good specific notions of metaphysical dependence that we have independent reason to accept and which are commonly operative in debates where metaphysical dependence is at issue, is there *also* a highly general notion? This is an interesting question, but (IMHO) hardly revolutionary.

Michael J. Raven

Thanks, Jessica, for the clarifications. For what it’s worth, I did not take you to be making an allegation, or harboring one inside.

If I may add a few clarifications of my own:

First, it was not my wish to object to your claim that “the literature on Grounding frequently fails to appropriately track” relevant work in what I called the tradition. Indeed, I suspect the literature does not appropriately track relevant work in the tradition. Rather, my claim (in the NDPR review and in my previous post) focused on what I called the trend. I think my claim about the trend is compatible with your claim about tracking the tradition (although I’m not entirely sure, since I’m not entirely sure how to individuate trends or traditions!).

Second, it was also not my wish to endorse or defend the initial (Fine/Rosen/Schaffer-style) motivations for positing ground. My aim was to report them. Although I have sympathies with some of them, they were often expressed (and are often reported, perhaps even by me!) with hyperbole. This tended to obscure the trend’s roots in the tradition, in part by not appropriately tracking relevant work.

Aside: I’m glad, Jessica, that you are raising these issues about citation practices and also challenging the enthusiasm over ground. As you know, I’ve got more to say about the latter. But since our blog-presences don’t impact our merit-based salary increments, perhaps we should have that discussion in the journals (with appropriate citations, of course)! :)

Jessica Wilson

Thanks for the response, Mike. Your comment made me laugh out loud! Yes, I look forward to future in-print and in-person engagement with your work.

Michael J. Raven

Ditto, Jessica!

Like a good narcissist, I seem to have somewhat derailed the original topic of the thread (the "subset view" of realization!) and made it about me and mine. Perhaps best that I gracelessly bow out, let the original thread resume, and get back to preparing for my next big salary increment!

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