Explanation in metaphysics and Bolzano’s theory of ground and consequence

Arianna Betti


In (2006a, 2006b), Benjamin Schnieder criticizes truthmaking as a relation between entities in the world and the truths those entities ‘make true’. In (2006b), his criticism exploits a notion of conceptual explanation that is very similar to Bolzano’s grounding. In the first part of this paper, I offer an analysis of Bolzano’s grounding. I discuss some open problems and argue that Bolzano’s grounding is not a systematization of the ordinary notion of ‘because’ as others have maintained, but of the technical notion of explanatory proof in the context of an axiomatic conception of (proper) science. On the basis of this analysis, in the second part, I offer a critical discussion of Schnieder 2006b’s arguments against truthmaking. I conclude that the latter are not very effective from a methodological point of view and that Bolzano’s original position fares better in this respect; still, truthmaker theorists will be able to defend truthmaking only at a high price.

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