Abstract Seibt

Johanna Seibt, Aarhus University

Ontological (“metaphysical”) explanation

Armstrong’s interpretation of truthmaking (2000) has led many to follow Schaffer (2007) and to embrace the idea that ontological explanations consist in determining which “facts”  ‘ground’ which other “facts”,  where the modality of grounding is taken to be “metaphysical necessity”, tracing “real essences.” However, as shown by Maurin (2019), it is far from clear that ‘grounding’ has any explanatory force at all.  Most recently, ontologists are waking up from the dogmatic slumbers of pre-Kantian “metaphysics” and rediscover that truth-making is neither grounding nor correspondence (Saenz 2020, Heil 2021, Audi 2021). I discuss these recent proposals and compare them to the original understanding of truthmaking (“truth grounds”, “ontological assays” etc.) in the heydays of analytical ontology during the 20th century. As I reconstruct this past conception, a ‘truth-maker’ (ontological correlate) is related to at true L-sentence (or true proposition) p—it does not establish of justify the truth of p, but reclassifies what p is about,  in relation to p’s inferential role.  Or more briefly: the structural domain descriptions of ontology do not explain why a sentence is true but what we can rationally take ourselves to be referring to.    My main question will be: have we, during the past two decades, made any progress in our understanding of how ontological (“metaphysical”) explanation works?