Theory and History of Ontology

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Annotated bibliography on ontological dependence: A- K


  1. Armstrong, Joshua, and Stanley, Jason. 2011. "Singular Thoughts and Singular Propositions." Philosophical Studies no. 154:205-222.

    Abstract: "A singular thought about an object o is one that is directly about o in a characteristic way—grasp of that thought requires having some special epistemic relation to the object o, and the thought is ontologically dependent on o. One account of the nature of singular thought exploits a Russellian Structured Account of Propositions, according to which contents are represented by means of structured n-tuples of objects, properties, and functions. A proposition is singular, according to this framework, if and only if it contains an object as a constituent. One advantage of the framework of Russellian Structured propositions is that it promises to provide a metaphysical basis for the notion of a singular thought about an object, grounding it in terms of constituency. In this paper, we argue that the attempt to ground the peculiar features of singular thoughts in terms of metaphysical constituency fails, and draw some consequences of our discussion for other debates."

  2. Asay, Jamin. 2020. "Truth(making) by Convention." American Philosophical Quarterly no. 57:117-128.

    Abstract: "A common account of the distinction between analytic and synthetic truths is that while the former are true solely in virtue of meaning, the latter are true also in virtue of the way of the world. Quine famously disputed this characterization, and his skepticism over the analytic/synthetic distinction has cast a long shadow. Against this skepticism, I argue that the common account comes close to the truth, and that truthmaker theory in particular offers the resources for providing a compelling account of the distinction that preserves the basic ideas behind it, and avoids the standard criticisms facing the distinction. In particular, I argue that analytic truths are truths that ontologically depend in no way whatsoever upon what exists."

  3. Azzouni, Jody. 2012. "Simple Metaphysics and “Ontological Dependence”." In Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality edited by Correia, Fabrice and Schnieder, Benjamin, 234-253. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "I 've argued in other work (Azzouni 2010a, 2010b) that ordinary usage admits only two ontological statuses: existence and non-existence.

    Further, only things that exist have properties. Truths about those things, therefore, correspondingly correctly describe those properties, and attribute those properties to those things. Anything that doesn’t exist has no properties, for anything that doesn’t exist isn’t in any way at all. Therefore: no thing that doesn’t exist can be talked about (because there is nothing to talk about). That these sound like evident truisms, and indeed, that they sounded like evident truisms to Plato and Parmenides, isn’t an indication that these are constraints on the meaning of words like “exist” and “nothing,” or phrases like “there is,” and “no thing.” Nothing that strong follows. It is an indication, however, of an aspect of our ordinary understanding of metaphysics, of our ordinary and fundamental understanding of what there is and what there isn’t." (p. 235)


    Azzouni, J. 2010a. ‘Ontology and the Word “Exist”: Uneasy Relations’, Philosophia Mathematica 18, 1: 74–101

    ___ 2010b. Talking About Nothing: Numbers, Hallucinations and Fictions. Oxford University Press

  4. Banega, Horacio. 2012. "Formal Ontology as an Operative Tool in the Theories of the Objects of the Life-World: Stumpf, Husserl and Ingarden." Symposium no. 16:64-88.

    Abstract: "It is accepted that certain mereological concepts and phenomenological conceptualisations presented in Carl Stumpf’s Über den psychologischen Ursprung der Raumvorstellung and Tonpsychologie played an important role in the development of the Husserlian formal ontology. In the third Logical Investigation, which displays the formal relations between part and whole and among parts that make out a whole, one of the main concepts of contemporary formal ontology and metaphysics is settled: ontological dependence or foundation (Fundierung). My main objective is to display Stumpf’s concepts of partial content, independent content, spatial wholes, sound wholes, and the different kinds of connection among parts, in particular, fusion (Verschmelzung). Second, I will show how Husserl improved this background, in particular with regards to the exact nature of the theory of manifolds (Mannigfaltigkeitslehre), in discussion with Georg Cantor, the father of set theory. Third, I will focus on Ingarden’s use of formal ontology and on the different modes of being that can be justified by appealing to the concept of ontological dependence in its Ingardenian variations. If my interpretation is adequate, it should be inferred that formal ontology is the operative theory of phenomenological philosophy, and this must be acknowledged in its full significance with respect to the supposed independence of the phenomenological method since 1913. A further consequence, not developed in this essay, is that formal ontology can be mathematised."

  5. Barnes, Elizabeth. 2018. "Symmetric Dependence." In Reality and Its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality, edited by Bliss, Ricki and Priest, Graham, 50-69. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    "Metaphysical orthodoxy maintains that the relation of ontological dependence is irreflexive, asymmetric, and transitive. The goal of this paper is to challenge that orthodoxy by arguing that ontological dependence should be understood as non-symmetric, rather than asymmetric. If we give up the asymmetry of dependence, interesting things follow for what we can say about metaphysical explanation—particularly for the prospects of explanatory holism." (p. 50)

  6. Baron, Sam. 2022. "Counterfactuals of Ontological Dependence." Journal of the American Philosophical Association.

    Not yet published; available al

    Abstract: "A great deal has been written about `would' counterfactuals of causal dependence. Comparatively little has been said regarding `would' counterfactuals of ontological dependence. The standard Lewis-Stalnaker semantics is inadequate for handling such counterfactuals. That's because some of these counterfactuals are counterpossibles, and the standard Lewis-Stalnaker semantics trivializes for counterpossibles. Fortunately, there is a straightforward extension of the Lewis-Stalnaker semantics available that handles counterpossibles: simply take Lewis's closeness relation that orders possible worlds and unleash it across impossible worlds. To apply the extended semantics, an account of the closeness relation for counterpossibles is needed. In this paper I offer a strategy for evaluating `would' counterfactuals of ontological dependence that understands closeness between worlds in terms of the metaphysical concept of grounding."

  7. Berto, Francesco. 2012. "The Selection Problem." Revue Internationale de Philosophie no. 262:519-537.

    Abstract: "In Fiction and Fictionalism, Mark Sainsbury has recently dubbed “Selection Problem” a serious trouble for Meinongian object theories. Typically, Meinongianism has been phrased as a kind of realism on nonexistent objects: these are mind-independent things, not mental simulacra, having the properties they have independently from the activity of any cognitive agent. But how can one single out an object we have no causal acquaintance with, and which is devoid of spatio-temporal location, picking it out from a pre-determined, mind-independent set?"

    "In this paper, I set out a line of response by distinguishing different ways in which a thing may not exist. I show that the selection problem (a) does not arise for past, currently nonexistent objects; (b) may not arise also for future existents (provided one massages naïve intuitions a bit); and (c) even for mere possibilia; but (d) is a real snag for purely fi ctional objects, such as Holmes or Gandalf.

    As for (d), I propose a solution that forces Meinongianism to introduce a kind of ontological dependence of purely fi ctional nonexistents upon existents." (.p 519)


    Sainsbury, M., 2010, Fiction and Fictionalism, Routledge, Oxford

  8. Brody, B. A. 1971. "On the Ontological Priority of Physical Objects." Noûs no. 5:139-155.

    "Strawson, in Chapter 1 of Individuals,(1) had argued that physical objects are ontologically prior to all other particulars. I believe that there is some truth to the position that he advances, but that there are also many false aspects to it. I also believe that there are immense weaknesses in Strawson's argument for his position but that it is possible to construct an alternative argument for the true aspects of it. This paper will argue for these beliefs.

    What is meant by "ontological priority"? We shall say that an entity a is in a given person's ontology if and only if there is some object b identical with a such that that person believes that b exists and there is no object c identical with a such that that person believes that c does not exist.(2)" (p. 139)

    (1) P. F. Strawson, Individuals (Anchor Books: 1963) all page references will be to this edition.

    (2) We could not simply say that a is in one's ontology if one believes that a exists. For then, if you believed that the morning star, but not the evening star, existed, that star would both be and not be in your ontology. The complication introduced in the text avoids this opacity problem by saying that the star is not in your ontology. It could be changed (by deleting the last clause) to give a broader notion of one's ontological commitments or (by modifying the first clause) to give an even narrower notion of one's ontological commitments.

    It is not necessary, for our purposes, to decide which is the best way for handling this problem.

  9. Bueno, Otávio, and Shalkowski, Scott, eds. 2018. The Routledge Handbook of Modality. New York: Routledge.

    Contents: Notes on Contributors XI;

    Otávio Bueno and Scott A. Shalkowski: Introduction: Modal matters: philosophical significance 1

    PART 1

    Worlds and modality

    1 Michael De: Possible worlds 11; 2 Karen Bennett: Actualism 21; 3 Dorothy Edgington: Counterfactual conditionals 30; 4 Daniel Nolan: Impossibility and impossible worlds 40; 5 Brian Leftow: The origins of logical space 49;

    PART 2

    Essentialism, ontological dependence, and modality

    6 Penelope Mackie: Essentialism and modality 61; 7 Boris Kment: De re modality 70; 8 Benj Hellie, Adam Russell Murray, and Jessica M. Wilson: Relativized metaphysical modality: index and context 82; 9 Fabrice Correia: Ontological dependence, Grounding and Modality 100; 10 Scott A. Shalkowski: Modalism 114;

    PART 3

    Modal anti-realism

    11 John Divers: Modal anti-realism 125; 12 Ross P. Cameron: Modal conventionalism 136; 13 Amie L. Thomasson: Norms and modality 146;

    PART 4

    Epistemology of modality

    14 Sonia Roca-Royes: The integration challenge 157; 15 M. Oreste Fiocco: The epistemic idleness of conceivability 167; 16 Christopher Peacocke: Epistemology, the constitutive, and the principle-based account of modality 180; 17 Timothy Williamson: The counterfactual-based approach to modal epistemology 188; 18 Albert Casullo: Modality and a priori knowledge 198; 19 Anand Jayprakash Vaidya: Intuition and modality: a disjunctive-social account of intuition-based justification for the epistemology of modality 208;

    PART 5

    Modality and the metaphysics of science

    20 Steven French: Modality and scientific structuralism 221; 21 Marc Lange: Laws of nature, natural necessity, and counterfactual conditionals 230; 22 Alexander Bird: Natural kinds and modality 239; 23 Samuel C. Fletcher: Modality in physics 251; 24 Ned Hall: Physical and metaphysical modality 265;

    PART 6

    Modality in logic and mathematics

    25 Øystein Linnebo and Stewart Shapiro: Modality in mathematics 281; 26 Christopher Menzel: Modal set theory 292; 27 Bob Hale: The logic of metaphysical modality 308; 28 Otávio Bueno: Modality and the plurality of logics 319;

    PART 7

    Modality in the history of philosophy

    29 Robin Smith: Ancient Greek modal logic 331; 30 Stephen Read: Modality in medieval philosophy 344; 31 Alan Nelson: Modality in Descartes’s philosophy 355; 32 Peter Millican: Hume on modality 364; 33 Nicholas Stang: Kant on real possibility 378; 34 Roberta Ballarin: Quine on modality 390; 35 John P. Burgess: Kripke on modality 400;

    Index 409-415.

  10. Calosi, Claudio. 2020. "Priority Monism, Dependence and Fundamentality." Philosophical Studies no. 177:1-20.

    Abstract: "Priority monism (PM) is roughly the view that the universe is the only fundamental object, that is, a concrete object that does not depend on any other concrete object. Schaffer, the main advocate of PM, claims that PM is compatible with dependence having two different directions: from parts to wholes for subcosmic wholes, and from whole to parts for the cosmic whole. Recently it has been argued that this position is untenable. Given plausible assumptions about dependence, PM entails that dependence has only one direction, it always goes from wholes to parts. One such plausible assumption is a principle of Isolation. I argue that, given all extant accounts of dependence on the market, PM entails No Isolation.

    The argument depends upon a particular feature of the dependence relation, namely, necessitation and its direction. In the light of this, I contend that the argument is important, insofar as it suggests that we should distinguish dependence from other cognate notions, e.g. grounding. Once this distinction is made, I suggest we should also distinguish between two different notions of fundamentality that might turn out to be not-coextensive."

  11. Casey, Jack. 2022. "The Unity of Dependence." Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-18.

    First online: 27 January 2022

    Abstract: "Most philosophers treat ontological dependence and metaphysical dependence as distinct relations. A number of key differences between the two relations are usually cited in support of this claim: ontological dependence’s unique connection to existence, differing respective connections to metaphysical necessitation, and a divergence in their formal features. Alongside reshaping some of the examples used to maintain the distinction between the two, I argue that the additional resources offered by the increased attention the notion of grounding has received in recent years potentially offer us a way to unite the two relations, promising the attendant benefits parsimony offers, as a result."

  12. Chakravartty, Anjan. 2012. "Ontological Priority: The Conceptual Basis of Non-eliminative, Ontic Structural Realism." In Structural Realism: Structure, Object, and Causality, edited by Landry, Elaine M. and Rickles, Dean P., 187-206. Dordrecht: Springer.

    "In this paper I consider a recent formulation of scientific realism, the core of which amounts to a provocative metaphysical doctrine. The family of views to which this innovation belongs is called “structural realism” (SR); the relevant genus within this family is now commonly referred to as “ontic structural realism” (OSR); and the novel species under consideration here is something that I will call “non-eliminative OSR”, to contrast it with its older and more widely problematized sibling species, eliminative OSR. I will argue that the core metaphysical doctrine underlying non-eliminative OSR, advocating an “ontological priority” of the relations of objects and properties over the objects and properties themselves, is no less problematic. The result is a dilemma for those who would subscribe to OSR in either its eliminative or noneliminative forms, in hopes of finding a promising way forward for realism in the context of scientific knowledge." (p. 187)

  13. ———. 2017. "Particles, Causation, and the Metaphysics of Structure." Synthese no. 194:2273-2289.

    Abstract: "I consider the idea of a structure of fundamental physical particles (as described, for example, in quantum theory) being causal. Causation is traditionally thought of as involving relations between entities—objects or events—that cause and are affected. On structuralist interpretations, however, it is unclear whether or how precisely fundamental particles can be causally efficacious. On some interpretations,

    only relations (as opposed to entities) exist; on others, particles are ontologically dependent on their relations in ways that problematize the traditional picture. I argue that thinking about causal efficacy in this context generates an inevitable pattern of reasoning. To assess the cogency of a given structuralist proposal one must take a stand with respect to a significant metaphysical challenge. Two options then emerge: skepticism about the form of structuralism at issue; or a dissolution of the challenge by means of a contentious ontological primitive. I contend that the choice between these options cannot be forced on scientific or philosophical grounds alone."

  14. Chisholm, Roderick M. 1983. "Boundaries as Dependent Particulars." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 20:87-95.

    "Introduction: Stephan Körner has noted that one way of drawing up a theory of categories will divide all particulars "into (a) a dass of independent particulars, i.e. particulars which are ontologically fundamental, and (b) a dass of dependent particulars, i.e. particulars which are not ontologically fundamental."(1) The dependent particulars might be said to be "parasitical upon" the fundamental particulars.

    I shall here discuss the nature of spatial boundaries, viewing them as dependent particulars."

    (1) Stephan Körner, Categorial Frameworks, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970, p. 4.

  15. ———. 1994. "Ontologically Dependent Entities." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 54:499-507.

    "A discussion of the distinction between ontologically dependent and ontologically non-dependent entities presupposes a general theory of categories. I assume that there are four basic types of entity: states; contingent individuals; abstracta; and necessary substance. The general theory would involve five dichotomies-five ways of dividing things into exclusive and exhaustive subsets.

    The dichotomies are these: (1) Things which are contingent and things which are noncontingent or necessary; (2) contingent things which are states and contingent things which are non-states or contingent individuals; (3) contingent individuals which are boundaries and contingent individuals which are non-boundaries or contingent substances; (4) necessary things which are states and necessary things which are not states but are, nevertheless, entia per se; and (5) those entia per se which are abstracta and that ens per se which is necessary substance." (p. 499)

  16. Correia, Fabrice. 2005. Existential Dependence and Cognate Notions. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.

    Contents: Introduction 7; 1. Preamble 13; Introductory Break 35; 2. Simple Dependence: Presentation, and Rejection of Some Accounts 39; 3. Metaphysical Grounding 53; 4. Simple Dependence: The Foundational Approach 65; 5. Some Other Notions of Existential Dependence 89; 6. A Cognate Notion: Supervenience 131; Appendix 151; Bibliography 161; List of Figures 165; List of Symbols and Notations 167; List of Named Propositions, Conditions and Rules 169; Index 171.

    "It is quite common nowadays to encounter in philosophical writings claims to the effect that certain entities depend for their existence upon certain other entities, that the former cannot exist without the latter. Thus, for instance, it is sometimes claimed that events depend for their existence upon their participants, sets upon their members, particularized properties and relations (tropes) upon their bearers, mental states and events upon physical states and events, boundaries upon the corresponding extended objects, holes upon their hosts.

    The notion of existential dependence not only serves to formulate particular philosophical claims. It may also be used to help characterize general philosophical positions, and to define central philosophical concepts. For instance, idealism may be defined as the view according to which the external world depends for its existence upon epistemic subjects; mereological essentialism as the claim that genuine wholes depend for their existence upon their parts; the thesis of the essentiality of biological origins as the view according to which every organism is existentially dependent upon its biological origins. And according to a certain philosophical tradition, substances are defined as existentially independent entities of a certain sort." (p. 7)


    "My plan is the following. In the Preamble, I introduce notions and principles that will be useful in the rest of this work. After a short break, chapter 2 introduces the simplest notion of existential dependence, presents some existing accounts of this notion and some objections to these accounts. In chapter 3 the crucial notion of grounding is introduced. In chapter 4,1 then propose my own account of simple existential dependence, and show how it escapes the difficulties faced by its rivals. Chapter 5 deals with other forms of existential dependence—like generic dependence, disjunctive dependence and temporalized forms of existential dependence—and finally chapter 6 is about supervenience."

  17. ———. 2008. "Ontological Dependence." Philosophy Compass no. 3:1013-1032.

    Abstract: "‘Ontological dependence’ is a term of philosophical jargon which stands for a rich family of properties and relations, often taken to be among the most fundamental ontological properties and relations. Notions of ontological dependence are usually thought of as ‘carving reality at its ontological joints’, and as marking certain forms of ontological ‘non-self-sufficiency’. The use of notions of dependence goes back as far as Aristotle's characterization of substances, and these notions are still widely used to characterize other concepts and to formulate metaphysical claims. This paper first gives an overview of the varieties of these notions, and then discusses some of their main applications."

  18. ———. 2021. "Ontological Dependence, Grounding and Modality." In The Routledge Handbook of Modality, edited by Bueno, Otávio and Shalkowski, Scott A., 100-113. New York: Routledge.

    "Ontological dependence and grounding are two important items in the metaphysician’s toolbox: both notions can be used to formulate important philosophical claims and to define other notions that play a central role in philosophical theorising. Philosophical inquiry about ontological dependence and (especially) grounding has been very lively over the past few years, making it difficult to write a short review article on any of them, let alone a short review article on both.

    I try to reach a good compromise between a discussion of each notion taken separately and a discussion of how they relate to one another. I begin by introducing the notions and discussing a number of their connections with modality (Sections 9.1 and 9.2), starting with grounding for systematic reasons (some important concepts of ontological dependence are defined in terms of grounding). I then further the discussion of how the notions are connected to each other, by arguing against the view that (partial) grounding is equivalent to (the converse of) ontological dependence between facts (Section 9.3). Finally, I discuss their respective roles in the theory of fundamentality (Section 9.4)." (p. 100 a note omitted)

  19. Costa, Damiano. 2019. "An Argument Against Aristotelian Universals." Synthese no. 198:4331-4338.

    Abstract: "I provide an argument against the Aristotelian view of universals, according to which universals depend for their existence on their exemplifiers. The argument consists in a set of five jointly inconsistent assumptions. As such, the argument can be used to argue in favour of other conclusions, such as that exemplification is no relation or that plausible principles concerning ontological dependence or grounding do not hold."

  20. Dumsday, Travis. 2016. "Non-Mereological Pluralistic Supersubstantivalism: An Alternative Perspective on the Matter–Spacetime Relationship." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 46:183-203.

    Abstract: "In both the historical and contemporary literature on the metaphysics of space (and, more recently, spacetime), a core dispute is that between relationism and substantivalism. One version of the latter is supersubstantivalism, according to which space (or, again, spacetime) is the only kind of substance, such that what we think of as individual material objects (electrons, quarks, etc.) are actually just parts of spacetime which instantiate certain properties. If those parts are ontologically dependent on spacetime as a whole, then we arrive at an ontology with only a single genuinely independent substance, namely the entire spacetime manifold.

    This is monist supersubstantivalism. A view on which the parts of spacetime are ontologically prior to the whole has been called pluralistic supersubstantivalism.

    As currently formulated, supersubstantivalism (in either its monist or pluralistic forms) carries significant advantages and encounters major difficulties. I argue that some of the latter motivate an alternative formulation, non-mereological pluralistic supersubstantivalism, according to which spacetime is a real substance, but what we think of as material objects are also real substances, irreducible to and numerically distinct from that larger spacetime manifold and any of its parts.

    Yet, the underlying nature of those material objects is ultimately the same type as that of spacetime: at bottom, a particle is just a smaller quantity of spacetime embedded in or contained by or co-located with the larger whole that we would normally think of as ‘spacetime,’ capable both of genuine movement within/across the larger spacetime manifold and (at least in principle) independent existence from it."

  21. Duncan, Michael, Miller, Kristie, and Norton, James. 2021. "Ditching determination and dependence: or, how to wear the crazy trousers." Synthese no. 198:395-418.

    Abstract: "This paper defends Flatland—the view that there exist neither determination nor dependence relations, and that everything is therefore fundamental—from the objection from explanatory inefficacy. According to that objection, Flatland is unattractive because it is unable to explain either the appearance as of there being determination relations, or the appearance as of there being dependence relations. We show how the Flatlander can meet the first challenge by offering four strategies—reducing, eliminating, untangling and omnizing—which, jointly, explain the appearance as of determination relations where no such relations obtain. Since, plausibly, dependence relations just are asymmetric determination relations, we argue that once we come mistakenly to believe that there exist determination relations, the existence of other asymmetries (conceptual and temporal) explains why it appears that there are dependence relations."

  22. Elpidorou, Andreas. 2018. "Introduction: The Character of Physicalism." Topoi no. 37:435-455.

    Abstract: "Not many issues in philosophy can be said to match, let alone rival, physicalism’s importance, persistent influence, and divisiveness. To a first approximation, physicalism holds that everything that exists in our world is physical.

    An acceptance of physicalism commits thus one to a monistic worldview. Despite how variegated existing entities or properties might appear to be, everything that exists in our world is, according to physicalism, the same: namely, physical.

    Indeed, it is widely thought that physicalism demands not only that the non-physical (the chemical, the biological, the economic, the social, the mental, etc.) metaphysically depends on the physical but also that the non-physical is nothing over and above the physical. But what type of metaphysical dependence vindicates physicalism?

    The aim of this editorial introduction is twofold. First, Sects. 1–8 offer a critical introduction to the metaphysical character of physicalism. In those sections, I present and evaluate different ways in which proponents of physicalism have made explicit the metaphysical dependence that is said to hold between the non-physical and the physical. Some of these accounts are found to be problematic; others are shown to be somewhat more promising. In the end, some important lessons are drawn and different options for physicalists are presented. Second, in Sect. 9, the six papers that comprise the special issue are introduced and summarized.

    Each contribution to the special is, in different ways, concerned with explicating the character of physicalism. New ways of formulating physicalism are assessed; old ways are defended; and the distinctions between physicalism naturalism, and dualism are reconsidered. The special issue is neither the first nor the last word on the topic of the character physicalism. Nonetheless, it offers both an updated appraisal of our current understanding of physicalism and concrete proposals for how to move forward."

  23. Erices, Gonzalo Nuñez. 2019. "Boundaries and Things. A Metaphysical Study of the Brentano-Chisholm Theory." Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy no. 33:15-48.

    Abstract: "The fact that boundaries are ontologically dependent entities is agreed by Franz Brentano and Roderick Chisholm. This article studies both authors as a single metaphysical account about boundaries. The Brentano-Chisholm theory understands that boundaries and the objects to which they belong hold a mutual relationship of ontological dependence: the existence of a boundary depends upon a continuum of higher spatial dimensionality, but also is a conditio sine qua non for the existence of a continuum. Although the view that ordinary material objects and their boundaries (or surfaces) ontologically depend on each other is correct, it does not grasp their asymmetric relationship: while the existence of a surface rigidly depends upon the existence of the very object it belongs to, the existence of a physical object generically depends upon having some surface. In modal terms, both are two kinds of de re ontological dependence that this article tries to distinguish."

  24. Esfeld, Michael, and Lam, Vincent. 2011. "Ontic Structural Realism as a Metaphysics of Objects." In Scientific Structuralism, edited by Bokulich, Peter and Bokulich, Alisa, 143-159. Dordrecht: Springer.

    "In a first approach, ontic structural realism (OSR) is a realism towards physical structures in the sense of networks of concrete physical relations, without these relations being dependent on fundamental physical objects that possess an intrinsic identity as their relata. In that vein, OSR has been developed in recent years as a metaphysics of contemporary fundamental physics, mainly non-relativistic quantum mechanics (QM), relativistic quantum field theory (QFT) and the general theory of relativity (GTR)." (p. 143)


    "The issue of the relationship between objects and relations within OSR has mainly been addressed in the literature in terms of ontological primacy (Stachel 2006; Ladyman and Ross 2007, Section 3.4; French 2010)." (p. 145)


    "In sum, current fundamental physics does not make an intrinsic identity of the fundamental physical objects, whatever they may be, available. The relations or structures acknowledged in current fundamental physics cannot provide for an identity that distinguishes each object from the other ones either, since they yield no more than what is known as weak discernibility. However, weak discernibility does not contribute to vindicating the idea of relations enjoying ontological primacy over relata in that objects somehow emerge out of relations (4), and the other two versions of OSR – symmetric ontological dependence between objects and relations (3), eliminativism with respect to objects (5) – are not convincing either." (p. 150)


    French, Steven (2010): “The interdependence of structure, objects and dependence”. Forthcoming in Synthese. [vol, 175, pp. 89-109]

    Ladyman, James & Ross, Don with Spurrett, David & Collier, John (2007): Every thing must go. Metaphysics naturalised. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Stachel, John (2006): “Structure, individuality, and quantum gravity”. In: D. Rickles, S. French & J. Saatsi (eds.): The structural foundations of quantum gravity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 53–82.

  25. Ferguson, Thomas Macaulay. 2016. "Remarks on Ontological Dependence in Set Theory." Australasian Journal of Logic no. 13:41-57.

    Abstract: "In a recent paper, John Wigglesworth explicates the notion of a set's being grounded in or ontologically depending on its members by the modal statement that in any world (possible or impossible), that a set exists in that world entails that its members exist as well. After suggesting that variable-domain S5 captures an appropriate account of metaphysical necessity, Wigglesworth purports to prove that in any set theory satisfying the axiom Extensionality this condition holds, that is, that sets ontologically depend on their members with respect to extraordinarily weak notions of set. This paper diagnoses a number of problems concerning Wigglesworth's formal argument. For one, we will show that Wigglesworth's argument is invalid as it requires an appeal to hidden, extralogical theses concerning rigid designation and the persistence of sets across possible worlds. Having demonstrated the indispensability of these principles to Wigglesworth's argument, we will then show that even granted the enthymematic premises, the argument only proves the ontological dependence of singletons on their members and does not extend to sets in general. Finally, we will consider strengthenings of Wigglesworth's reasoning and suggest that even the weakest generalization will bear undesirable consequences."


    Wigglesworth, J. Set-theoretic dependence. Australasian Journal of Logic 12, 3 (2015), 150-176.

  26. Ferrier, Edward. 2019. "Against the Iterative Conception of Set." Philosophical Studies no. 176:2681-2703.

    Abstract: "According to the iterative conception, each set is formed out of sets that are, in some sense, prior to it. Because priority plays an essential role in explanations of why contradiction-inducing sets, such as the universal set, do not exist, the success of these explanations depends on our ability to make sense of the relevant priority relation. I argue that attempts to do this have fallen short: understanding priority in a straightforwardly constructivist sense threatens the coherence of the empty set and raises serious epistemological concerns; but the leading realist interpretations–ontological and modal interpretations of riority—are deeply problematic as well. I conclude that the purported explanatory virtues of the iterative conception are, at present, unfounded."

  27. Fine, Kit. 1995. "Ontological Dependence." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society no. 95:269-290.

    "T'here appears to be a distinctively ontological sense in which one thing may be said to depend upon another. What the one thing is will depend upon the other thing, upon what it is. It is in this sense that one is tempted to say that a set depends upon its members or that a particularized feature, such as a smile, upon the particular in which it is found. For what the set is will depend upon its members; and what the feature is will depend upon the particular that instantiates it. (1)

    Granted that there is an intelligible notion of ontological dependence, it would appear to be of great importance to the study of metaphysics. Metaphysics has two main areas of concern: one is with the nature of things, with what they are; and the other is with the existence of things, with whether they are. Considerations of dependence are relevant to both. For central to the question of the nature of any item is the determination of what it depends upon; and if something is taken to exist, then so must any thing upon which it depends. Indeed, it has often been maintained that it is only those things which do not depend upon anything else that can properly be said to exist at all." (p. 269)


    "But how is the notion of dependence itself to be understood? The idea of what something is, its identity or being, is notoriously obscure; and the idea of the being of one thing depending upon that of another is doubly obscure. A natural suggestion at this point is to take the being of something simply to be its existence. Thus in saying that a set depends upon its members, or a feature upon its instantiator, we are taking the existence of the one to depend upon that of the other. Call this the existential construal of dependence. Another natural suggestion is to take the dependence between the beings of the two items, as opposed to the items themselves, to be modal in character. The being of the one will depend upon that of the other in the sense that it is necessary that if the one item has its ‘being’ then so does the other. Call this the modal construal of dependence." (p. 270)

    (1) This paper derives from an earlier paper ‘Dependent Objects’ , that was written in 1982 but remained unpublished. Some of the issues raised are discussed at greater length in Fine [1995b]; and no attempt is here made to settle the methodological, as opposed to the conceptual, issues. I should like to thank Ruth Chang and the members of the Wednesday Group at Oxford for helpful comments.


    Fine K. [1995b] ‘Senses of Essence’, to appear in Festschrift for Ruth Barcan Marcus. [Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Modality, Morality and Belief. Essays in Honor of Ruth Barcan Marcus, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 53-73.]

  28. ———. 2020. "Comments on Jessica Wilson’s “Essence and Dependence”." In Metaphysics, Meaning, and Modality: Themes from Kit Fine, edited by Dumitru, Mircea, 471-475. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "Jessica Wilson’s paper is a wonderfully sympathetic account of my general approach to metaphysics; and there is a special satisfaction to be had in being, not merely understood, but understood so well.


    But her paper is not all praise. For she wishes to criticize my account of ontological dependence in terms of essence - perhaps as part of a larger critique of the use of a general notion of dependence in etaphysics (§ 4). In a number of papers, I have suggested that an object x will depend upon an object y if and only y figures in the essence of x, i.e., if and only if, in giving an account of what x is, reference must be made

    y. But she thinks that this equivalencemay fail in the right to left direction, that an object y may figure in the essence of x without x depending upon y (she may be perfectly happy with the left to right direction, though this is not something that she discusses)." (p. 471)

  29. Fontaine, Matthieu, and Rahman, Shahid. 2010. "Fiction, Creation and Fictionality: An Overview." Methodos no. 10:1-75.

    Abstract: "The philosophical reflection on non-existence is an issue that has been tackled at the very start of philosophy and constitutes since the publication in 1905 of Russell’s “On Denoting” one of the most thorny and heated debates in analytic philosophy. However the fierce debates on the semantics of proper names and definite descriptions which took off after the publication of Strawson’s ‘On Referring’ in 1950 did not trigger a systematic study of the semantics of fiction. In fact, the systematic development of a link that articulates the approaches to fiction of logic; philosophy and literature had to wait until the work of John Woods, who published in 1974 the book Logic of Fiction: A Philosophical Sounding of Deviant Logic. One of the most exciting challenges of Woods’ book relates to the interaction between the internalist or inside-the-story (mainly pragmatist) and externalist or outside-the-story (mainly semantic) points of view. For that purpose Woods formulated as first a fictionality operator to be read as “according to the story …” in relation to the logical scope of which issues on internalism and externalism could be studied. The discussions on fiction that followed Woods’ book not only seem not to fade away but even give rise to new and vigorous research impulses. Relevant fact for our paper is that in the phenomenological tradition too, the study of fiction has a central role to play. Indeed, one of the most controversial issues in intentionality is the problem of the existence-independence; i.e. the purported fact that intentional acts need not be directed at any existent object. Influenced by the work of the prominent student of Husserl, Roman Ingarden (1893-1970), Amie Thomasson develops the phenomenological concept of ontological dependence in order to explain how we can perform inter- and transfictional-reference - for example in the context of literary interpretation. The main claim of this paper is that a bi-dimensional multimodal reconstruction of Thomasson’s-Ingarden’s theory on fictional characters which takes seriously the fact that fictions are creations opens the door to the articulation between the internalist and the externalist approaches. We will motivate some changes on the artifactual approach – including an appropriate semantics for the fictionality operator that, we hope, will awaken the interest of theoreticians of literature. The paper could be also seen as an overview of how different concepts of intentionality might yield different formal semantics for fictionality. We will provide a dialogical framework that is a modal extension of a certain proof system developed by Matthieu Fontaine and Juan Redmond. The dialogical framework develops the inferential counterpart to the the bidimensional semantics introduced by Rahman and Tulenheimo in a recent paper."


    Rahman, S. and Tulenheimo, T., 2009a: “From games to dialogues and back: towards a general frame for validity”, in O. Majer, A. Pietarinen, and T. Tulenheimo (eds.), Games: Unifying Logic, Language, and Philosophy, Logic, Epistemology and the Unity of Science 15, Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 153–208.

  30. ———. 2014. "Towards a Semantics for the Artifactual Theory of Fiction and Beyond." Synthese no. 191:499-516.

    Abstract: "In her book Fiction and Metaphysics (1999) Amie Thomasson, influenced by the work of Roman Ingarden, develops a phenomenological approach to fictional entities in order to explain how non-fictional entities can be referred to intrafictionally and transfictionally, for example in the context of literary interpretation. As our starting point we take Thomasson’s realist theory of literary fictional objects, according to which such objects actually exist, albeit as abstract and artifactual entities. Thomasson’s approach relies heavily on the notion of ontological dependence, but its precise semantics has not yet been developed. Moreover, the modal approach to the notion of ontological dependence underlying the Artifactual Theory has recently been contested by several scholars. The main aims of this paper are (i) to develop a semantic approach to the notion of ontological dependence in the context of the Artifactual Theory of fiction, and in so doing bridge a number of philosophical and logical gaps; (ii) to generalize Thomasson’s categorial theory of ontological dependence by reconstructing ontological categories of entities purely in terms of different structures of ontological dependence, rather than in terms of the basic kinds of entities the categorical entities depend on."

  31. French, Steven. 2010. "The interdependence of structure, objects and dependence." Synthese no. 175:89-109.

    Abstract: "According to ‘Ontic Structural Realism’ (OSR), physical objects—qua metaphysical entities—should be reconceptualised, or, more strongly, eliminated in favour of the relevant structures. In this paper I shall attempt to articulate the relationship

    between these putative objects and structures in terms of certain accounts of metaphysical dependence currently available. This will allow me to articulate the differences between the different forms of OSR and to argue in favour of the ‘eliminativist’

    version. A useful context is provided by Floridi’s account of the relationship between ‘ontic’ and ‘epistemic’ structural realisms and I shall conclude with some brief remarks on possible extensions of OSR into other scientific domains."


    Floridi, L. (2008). A defence of informational structural realism. Synthese, 161, 219–253.

  32. Galton, Antony. 2014. "On Generically Dependent Entities." Applied Ontology no. 9:129-153.

    Abstract: "An entity x is said to be generically dependent on a type F if x cannot exist without at least one entity of type F existing. In this paper several varieties of generic dependence are distinguished, differing in the nature of the relationship between an entity and the instances of a type on which it generically depends, and in the light of this criteria of identity for generically dependent entities are investigated. These considerations are then illustrated in detail in a series of three case studies, covering shapes, linguistic entities such as letters, words and sentences, and collectives. Each case study examines how far the entities involved have robust identity criteria, and to the extent that they do not it is questioned whether they can be regarded as bona fide examples of generic dependent entities.

    Finally, in the light of this, a number of possible accounts that may be given of the ontological status of such entities are considered."

  33. Glick, David, Darby, George, and Marmodoro, Anna, eds. 2020. The Foundation of Reality: Fundamentality, Space, and Time. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Contents: List of Figures VII; List of Contributors IX; David Glick: Introduction 1;

    Section 1. The Metaphysics of Fundamentality

    1. Ralf M. Bader: Fundamentality and Non-Symmetric Relations 15; 2. Alastair Wilson: Classifying Dependencies 46; 3. Matteo Morganti: Ontic Structuralism and Fundamentality 69; 4. J. E. Wolff: Fundamental and Derived Quantities 87; 5. Nora Berenstain: Privileged-Perspective Realism in the Quantum Multiverse102;

    Section 2. Quantum Mechanics and Fundamentality

    6. Michael Esfeld: Super-Humeanism: The Canberra Plan for Physics 125; 7. Jenann Ismael: What Entanglement Might Be Telling Us: Space, Quantum Mechanics, and Bohm’s Fish Tank 139; 8. Alyssa Ney: Wave Function Realism in a Relativistic Setting 154; 9. David Glick and George Darby: In Defense of the Metaphysics of Entanglement 169;

    Section 3. Spacetime Theories and Fundamentality

    10. Richard Healey: On the Independent Emergence of Space-time 183; 11. Elena Castellani and Sebastian De Haro: Duality, Fundamentality, and Emergence 195;

    12. Tomasz Bigaj: Radical Structural Essentialism for the Spacetime Substantivalist 217; 13. Christian Wüthrich: When the Actual World Is Not Even Possible 233;

    Bibliography 255; Index 269-273.

  34. Gorman, Michael. 1993. Ontological Priority.

    Unpublished Ph.D thesis, State University of New York at Buffalo, available at ProQuest Dissertation Express, Pub ID 9404812.

    Abstract: "


    Michael Gorman

    Catholic University of America


    This dissertation is an investigation of ontological priority. The Introduction argues that although philosophers have often been concerned with the things that are ontologically prior, they have seldom addressed the question of what ontological priority is. ;Part One gives a detailed analysis of what ontological priority is. Chapter 1 notes that there are two competing theories available: according to the first, ontological priority is a dependence relation; according to the second, it is a degrees-of-being relation. Since the two views are in themselves irreconcilable and since there are no good grounds for choosing between them, it is better to find a "higher" theory that encompasses both of them. Chapter 2 lays the groundwork for the development of this "higher" theory by examining the Scotistic notion of "essential order", a notion that includes the two relations that have been called 'ontological priority' as noted in Chapter 1. Chapter 3 adapts Scotus's understanding of essential order to formulate a definition of ontological priority. The definition does not define just one relation; rather, it gives membership criteria for an entire class of "ontological priority relations". ;Part Two examines some of the members of the class of ontological priority relations. Chapter 4 examines dependence and concludes three things: first, that the received understanding of dependence is incorrect; second, that dependence properly understood is an ontological priority relation; third, that the relation that is usually thought to be dependence is also an ontological priority relation. Chapter 5 examines degrees-of-being. Since the question of what degrees-of-being is is too complicated to deal with in the context of the dissertation, the chapter examines several theories and shows that degrees-of-being is an ontological priority relation according to any of the theories. ;The Conclusion shows some relations among the three ontological priority relations discussed in Part Two. It also shows briefly how the concept of ontological priority relations can be used to talk about the orderings of the universe. Finally, it points the way to further investigation."

  35. ———. 2006. "Independence and Substance." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 46:147-159.

    Abstract: "The paper takes up a traditional view that has also been a part of some recent analytic metaphysics, namely, the view that substance is to be understood in terms of independence. Taking as my point of departure some recent remarks by Kit Fine, I propose reviving the Aristotelian-scholastic idea that the sense in which substances are independent is that they are non-inherent, and I do so by developing a broad notion of inherence that is more usable in the context of contemporary analytic metaphysics than the traditional notion is. I end by showing how non-inherence, while necessary for being a substance, cannot be taken as sufficient without some qualifying remarks."

  36. ———. 2006. "Substance and Identity-Dependence." Philosophical Papers no. 35:103-118.

    Abstract: "The notion of substance has become rather important in recent metaphysical discussions, but there is no consensus on how it is to be understood. In this paper discuss the idea that substance can be defined in terms of identity-dependence. Giving special attention to the work of E.J. Lowe, who is the main advocate of this position, I clarify how the identity-dependence approach ought to be understood and defend it against an objection having to do with dependence on God. then bring forward difficulties having to do with mereological essentialism and necessity of origins. These difficulties are much more powerful, but it is possible to revise the identity-dependence approach in a way that avoids them."

  37. ———. 2012. "On substantial independence: a reply to Patrick Toner." Philosophical Studies no. 159:293-297.

    Abstract: "Patrick Toner has recently criticized accounts of substance provided by Kit Fine, E. J. Lowe, and the author, accounts which say (to a first approximation) that substances cannot depend on things other than their own parts. On Toner’s analysis, the inclusion of this ‘‘parts exception’’ results in a disjunctive definition of substance rather than a unified account. In this paper (speaking only for myself, but in a way that would, I believe, support the other authors that Toner discusses), I first make clear what Toner’s criticism is, and then I respond to it. Including the ‘‘parts exception’’ is not the adding of a second condition but instead the creation of a new single condition. Since it is not the adding of a condition, the result is not disjunctive. Therefore, the objection fails."

  38. Grimes, Thomas R. 1988. "The Existential Basis of Propositions, States of Affairs, and Properties." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 31:151-163.

    "Existentialism, in its more general form, is the view that such things as propositions, states of affairs, and properties are ontologically dependent upon the objects they are directly about. On this view, if Socrates had never existed there would not have been the proposition Socrates is wise, the state of affairs Socrates' being wise, nor the property being such that Socrates is wise.

    Existentialism strikes me as a plausible doctrine. Alvin Plantinga, however, is of a differing opinion and has sought to fill the existential vacuum by arguing that it is possible that a singular proposition exists even if the contingent individual it involves does not.(2) In defense of existentialism, I will attempt to show that Plantinga's efforts are not succesful, and then give an argument in favor of the existentialist position." (pp. 151-162, a note omitted)

    (2) See "De Essentia", Grazer Philosophische Studien, 7 (1979), and also

    "On Existentialism", Philosophical Studies, 44 (1983).

  39. Hiller, Avram. 2013. "Object-Dependence." Essays in Philosophy no. 14:33-55.

    Abstract: "There has been much work on ontological dependence in recent literature. However, relatively little of it has been dedicated to the ways in which individual physical objects may depend on other distinct, non-overlapping objects. This paper gives several examples of such object-dependence and distinguishes between different types of it. The paper also introduces and refines the notion of an n-tet. N-tets (typically) occur when there are object-dependence relations between n objects. I claim that the identity (or, rather, what I call the n-dentity) conditions for n-tets are not grounded in the individual identity conditions of each of the n objects, but instead are metaphysically basic. The paper then briefly discusses some ramifications of accepting objectdependence (and n-tets) on the philosophy of biology, ethics, and logic."

  40. Hinckfuss, Ian. 1976. "Necessary Existential Dependence." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 54:123-132.

    "The notion that one sort of thing depends in some logical way for its existence on the existence of another sort of thing is a common feature of ontological discussions in every field of philosophy. The notion is of importance, for it is often thought that the tracing of these necessary ontological dependencies gives us greater understanding as to the nature of the entities involved. Thus such questions may arise as: In what way, if at all, do such abstract entities such as sentences, propositions and languages depend for their existence on the existence of concrete entities--such as thinking and communicating people---and the linguistic tokens which they manufacture?

    In what way, if at all, do the existence of space and time depend on the existence of material objects?


    In this paper, I shall try to render plausible the contention that there is no coherent notion of existential dependence, where this dependence is construed as any sort of logical relationship." (p. 123)

  41. Hoeltje, Miguel. 2013. "Introduction." In Varieties of Dependence: Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence, edited by Hoeltje, Miguel, Schnieder, Benjamin and Steinberg, Alex, 9-28. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.

    "This collection focusses on four notions that have been used to formulate metaphysical claims about the structure of the world: ontological dependence, grounding, supervenience, and response-dependence. The collection aims at both providing a useful guide to the novice reader as well as making a contribution to the current debates involving these notions.

    To this end, contributions of two different sorts are included.

    For each of the four notions, the collection contains a survry paper introducing the pertinent concepts and distinctions, and summarizing the state of the art of the debate. A fifth survey paper, on Aristotle's notion of ontological dependence and its relevance to the notion of a substance, provides some of the historical background. These survey papers thus provide the theoretical basis for the research papers that make original contributions to the current debates." (p. 9)

  42. Hoeltje, Miguel, Schnieder, Benjamin, and Steinberg, Alex, eds. 2013. Varieties of Dependence: Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.

    Contents: Miguel Hoe!tje: Introduction 9;

    Part I: Surveys

    Kathrin Koslicki: Ontological Dependence: An Opinionated Survey 31; Phil Corkum: Substance and Independence in Aristotle 65; Kelly Trogdon: An Introduction to Grounding 97; Alex Steinberg: Supervenience: A Survey 123; Jussi Haukioja: Different Notions of Response-Dependence 167;

    Part II: Research Papers

    E. ]. Lowe: Some Varieties of Metaphysical Dependence 193; C. S. I. .Jenkins: Explanation and Fundamentality 211; Louis deRosset: No Free Lunch 243; Fabrice Correia: Metaphysical Grounds and Essence 271; Stefano Caputo: The Dependence of Truth on Being: Is There a Problem for Minimalism? 297; Stephan Leuenberger: Supervenience Among Classes of Relations 325; Ralf M. Bader: Multiple-Domain Supervenience for Non-Classical Mereologies 347; Eline Busck Gundersen: Response-Dependence and Conditional Fallacy Problems 369; Dan Lopez de Sa: Rigid vs. Flexible Response-Dependent Properties 393;

    Name Index 419; Subject Index 423; List of Contributors 429-431.

  43. Irmak, Nurbay. 2013. "The Privilege of the Physical and the Status of Ontological Debates." Philosophical Studies no. 166:1-8.

    Abstract: "Theodore Sider in his latest book [Writing the book of the world. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011] provides a defense of the substantivity of the first-order ontological debates against recent deflationary attacks. He articulates and defends several realist theses: (a) nature has an objective structure, (b) there is an objectively privileged language to describe the structure, and (c) ontological debates are substantive. Sider’s defense of metaontological realism, (c), crucially depends on his realism about fundamental languages, (b). I argue that (b) is wrong.

    As a result, Sider’s metaontological realism fails to establish the substantivity of certain ontological disputes. Nonetheless, I will argue denying metaontological realism does not require giving up on the realism about structure, (a), that most of us would like to preserve: namely the idea that there are objective similarities and differences in the world that we try to wrap our minds around."

  44. Jacinto, Bruno. 2019. "Serious Actualism and Higher-Order Predication." Journal of Philosophical Logic no. 48:471-499.

    Abstract: "Serious actualism is the prima facie plausible thesis that things couldn’t have been related while being nothing. The thesis plays an important role in a number of arguments in metaphysics, e.g., in Plantinga’s argument (Plantinga Philosophical Studies, 44, 1–20 1983) for the claim that propositions do not ontologically depend on the things that they are about and in Williamson’s argument (Williamson 2002) for the claim that he, Williamson, is necessarily something. Salmon (Philosophical Perspectives, 1, 49–108 1987) has put forward that which is, arguably, the most pressing challenge to serious actualists. Salmon’s objection is based on a scenario intended to elicit the judgment that merely possible entities may nonetheless be actually referred to, and so may actually have properties. It is shown that predicativism, the thesis that names are true of their bearers, provides the resources for replying to Salmon’s objection.

    In addition, an argument for serious actualism based on Stephanou (Philosophical Review, 116(2), 219–250 2007) is offered. Finally, it is shown that once serious actualism is conjoined with some minimal assumptions, it implies property necessitism, the thesis that necessarily all properties are necessarily something, as well as a strong comprehension principle for higher-order modal logic according to which

    for every condition there necessarily is the property of being a thing satisfying that condition."


    Plantinga, A. (1983). On existentialism. Philosophical Studies, 44, 1–20.

    Salmon, N. (1987). Existence. Philosophical Perspectives, 1, 49–108.

    Stephanou, Y. (2007). Serious actualism. Philosophical Review, 116(2), 219–250.

    Williamson, T. (2013). Modal logic as metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  45. Jansson, Lina. 2017. "Explanatory Asymmetries, Ground, and Ontological Dependence." Erkenntnis no. 82:17-44.

    Abstract: "The notions of ground and ontological dependence have made a prominent resurgence in much of contemporary metaphysics. However, objections have been raised. On the one hand, objections have been raised to the need for distinctively metaphysical notions of ground and ontological dependence. On the other, objections have been raised to the usefulness of adding ground and ontological dependence to the existing store of other metaphysical notions. Even the logical properties of ground and ontological dependence are under debate. In this article, I focus on how to account for the judgements of non-symmetry in several of the cases that motivate the introduction of notions like ground and ontological dependence. By focusing on the notion of explanation relative to a theory, I conclude that we do not need to postulate a distinctively asymmetric metaphysical notion in order to account for these judgements."

  46. Jenkins, C. S. 2011. "Is Metaphysical Dependence Irreflexive?" The Monist no. 94:267-276.

    "It is very commonly asserted that metaphysical dependence or grounding is an irreflexive relation: that is to say, it never holds between an item and itself." (p. 267)


    "Maybe the irreflexivity assumption doesn't require argument?

    Perhaps it is reasonable just to assume it in the absence of arguments to the contrary. There are (at least) three possible ways to back up this suggestion.

    One could take the irreflexivity claim to be:

    1. stipulative,

    2. intuitive, or

    3. too basic to require justification (at least in the relevant contexts).

    If it is taken to be stipulative (i.e. if one takes it to be true by definition that dependence is irreflexive), one runs the risk of discussing something that isn't what everyone else meant by 'dependence', or of discussing something that is less interesting than schmependence (a nearby non-irreflexive relation). One can mean whatever one likes by 'dependence', of course, but these risks are to be treated with respect by any serious philosopher.

    If one merely takes irreflexivity to be intuitive, however, one is open to the possibility that its intuitiveness might be explained away as being due to quasi-irreflexivity.

    What about taking irreflexivity to be too basic to require justification in the relevant contexts?8 After all, one must start somewhere if one is to make any progress; one can't argue for all one's assumptions. But one can assert that dependence appears to be irreflexive, or exhibits some features suggestive of irreflexivity, almost as quickly as one can assert that it is irreflexive.

    Now that the irreflexivity assumption has been questioned and one obvious motivation for it undermined, it is not good philosophical practice to sweep the challenge back under the carpet." (p. 275, notes omitted)

  47. Johansson, Ingvar. 2004. Ontological Investigations: An Inquiry into the Categories of Nature, Man and Society. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.

    Second edition. First edition London: Routledge 1989.

    "Foreword to the second edition: After fifteen years, a second edition of Ontological Investigations will now appear. It contains three appendices: First, a summary of the conclusions of the book in aphoristic form; second, a piece on universals which provides a

    more elaborate defence of my realist point of departure; and, third, an appendix on ontology in information science, a topic which is also addressed in this Foreword." (p. VII)

    Chapter 9: "As I indicated at the beginning of chapter 8, I do not regard internal relations as a fundamental category but a specific kind of the truly fundamental category 'existential dependence'. The theory of this category is, I think, first worked out by Brentano and the young Edmund Husserl. But it has not so far, unlike external and internal relations, become common property within philosophy.

    This is the reason why I wanted to discuss internal relations before existential dependence. I think the move to the latter concept is so important that I shall make some further introductory remarks before presenting the category of existential dependence." (p. 124)

  48. Kanzian, Christian. 2015. "Existential Dependence and other Formal Relations." In God, Truth, and other Enigmas, edited by Szatkowski, Miroslaw, 183-196. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    "As the title ofmy paper indicates, I will not restrictmyself to general considerations concerning formal relations. Inmy second section I aim to introduce dependence, ontological dependence, as another such formal relation. In this section I will spell out what ontological dependence has in common with the other formal relations, and how we can define it amongst the other genera of formal relations.

    Having, I hope, sufficiently motivated the argument I am making, I next turn to existential dependence in the third section, treating it as an own kind or species of ontological dependence. Continuing the method I employed in section two, I will point out aspects which existential dependence has in common with other species of dependence, and, then, those of its characteristics that are not shared by the other formal relations within the genus of ontological dependence. In the final two sections ofmy paper I will present a brief overview of certain possible applications of this theory of formal relations, focusing on existential dependence.

    With such a theory in hand, we can make a certain specific categorial frame more plausible (section 4). I also believe that formal relations like existential dependence, perhaps, can help us understand central topics in philosophical theology, e.g. of God’s identity, and of creation. Concerning the latter I make some fragmentary suggestions (in section 5)." (pp. 183-184)

  49. Kim, Jaegwon. 1994. "Explanatory Knowledge and Metaphysical Dependence." Philosophical Issues no. 5:51-69.

    "There is a famous remark Aristotle made about knowledge: "Men do not think they know a thing unless they have grasped the 'why' of it" (Physics II, ch. 3; see also Metaphysics V, ch. 2). This remark is often quoted by writers on scientific explanation to underline the importance of explanation to scientific knowledge, and why, as philosophers, we should concern ourselves with understanding what explanation is -that is, to show that "analyzing" scientific explanation, or building a "model" of explanation, is a reputable philosophical enterprise." (p. 51)


    "My main proposal, then, is this: explanations track dependence relations. The relation that "grounds" the relation between an explanans, G, and its explanatory conclusion, E, is that of dependence; namely, G is an explanans of E just in case e, the event being explained, depends on g, the event invoked as explaining it.

    On this proposal, therefore, the simplifying effect of an explanation is seen both in our belief system and in the world: by showing an event to be dependent on another, the explanation reduces the number of independent events in the world, and also the number of independent assumptions we need to accept about the world." (p. 68)

  50. Kolb, David. 1975. "Ontological priorities: A critique of the announced goals of "descriptive metaphysics"." Metaphilosophy no. 6:238-258.

    "Is there a the metaphysics of ordinary language? In recent decades philosophers have attempted to obtain “ontological” results by analyzing the language we ordinarily speak, its semantics, and the conditions that make it possible. Peter Strawson’s “descriptive metaphysics” is perhaps the most famous of these attempts; I will try to show in this essay that it does not fulfil its stated purpose.

    After a brief review of some of the main theses of Individuals, I discuss an ambiguity in Strawson’s notion of “ontological priority”. This ambiguity seriously weakens Strawson’s arguments and raises the question whether “descriptive metaphysics” is metaphysics at all. I then try to outline his project as a whole and show why it might lead to this ambiguity. This involves examining what Strawson means by “other conceptual schemes”.

    I close with a brief look at similar issues in Strawson’s later book, The Bounds of Sense.

    This essay restricts itself to one author, but it is part of a wider attempt to show that analysis of (ordinary) language yields no necessary metaphysical results except at Kant’s price: the elimination of metaphysics by some sort of transcendental philosophy." (p. 238)

  51. Koons, Robert C., and Pickavance, Timothy H. 2017. The Atlas of Reality: A Comprehensive Guide to Metaphysics. Malden: Wiley Blackwell.

    Chapter 3: Grounding, Ontological Dependence, and Fundamentality, pp. 47-73.

    "Fine (2012a) distinguishes between grounding and ontological dependence. Grounding is an explanatory relation between facts. Ontological dependence is a relation between entities or things: x is dependent on y iff y is contained in the essence of x."


    "So, we might distinguish between the quiddity of x (x’s species, a nature or what-it-is-to-be x that is shared by things with the same form), and the haecceity of x (the thisness of x, what it is to be x in particular). Quiddities are shareable; haecceities are not. If so, we should distinguish between two different kinds of ontological dependence: quidditistic ontological dependence (‘q-dependence’) and haecceitistic ontological dependence (‘hdependence’).

    Socrates is q-dependent on his animality and his rationality, and on his soul and body, but not on his parents, while he might be h-dependent on his parents and on the circumstances of his conception, if we assume that these particular parents and the particular event of his conception are in some sense essential to Socrates’ particular individuality or identity. In fact, many metaphysicians (following Kripke 1980) subscribe to what is called origins essentialism, meaning that a thing’s particular origin is essential to its individual identity (i.e., part of its haecceity).

    So, if we believe in origins essentialism, particular events (like conceptions) might be included in the haecceities of particular things, but not in their quiddities (although the property of having some conception-event or other might be included in the quiddity)." (P. 58)


    Fine, K. (2012a), Guide to Ground, in F. Correia and Benjamin Schnieder eds., Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  52. Koslicki, Kathrin. 2012. "Essence, Necessity, and Explanation." In Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics, edited by Tahko, Tuomas E., 187-206. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    £In Section 12.2 of this chapter, I discuss Fine’s way of drawing the distinction between what is part of the essence of an object and what merely follows from the essence of an object. Fine’s approach to essence and modality has the advantage over the traditional approach to de re modality that it is set up to reflect the sensitivity of essentialist truths towards their grounds, viz., the identity of those objects in virtue of which these claims are true. But Fine’s approach, as far as I can see, does not settle all the questions we would like to have answered concerning the derivation of propositions stating necessary (but non-essential) features of objects (e.g., the triangle’s being three-sided) from propositions stating their essential features (e.g., the triangle’s being three-angled), since the relevant notion of consequence that is needed for this purpose cannot be merely that of logical entailment." (p. 189)

  53. ———. 2012. "Varieties of Ontological Dependence." In Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality edited by Correia, Fabrice and Schnieder, Benjamin, 186-213. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "Surprisingly, despite the central role dependence has played in philosophy since its very inception, this relation has only recently begun to receive the kind of attention it deserves from contemporary metaphysicians. In this chapter, I would like to contribute to the recent surge of interest in this subject by helping to develop a better grasp of the notion of ontological dependence. In doing so, I am not interested primarily in defending particular positions in first-order metaphysics, e.g., trope theory or Aristotelianism about universals. Rather, the focus of this current project is to become clearer about the kinds of dependence relations to which philosophers who assert or deny these positions in first-order metaphysics appeal. I take this project to be a crucial component of defending a realist position in metaphysics, according to which substantive disagreements in ontology are possible." (p 187, a note omitted)

  54. ———. 2013. "Ontological Dependence: An Opinionated Survey." In Varieties of Dependence: Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence edited by Schnieder, Benjamin, Hoeltje, Miguel and Steinberg, Alex, 31-64. Munich: Philosophia Verlag.

    "The purpose of this essay is to provide an opinionated survey of some recent developments in the literature on ontological dependence.(1) Ontological dependence is typically taken to be a relation whose relata are entities."


    "Conclusion: In this essay, I have considered various prominent construals of ontological dependence in the literature: modal vs. non-modal; existential vs. non-existential; as well as rigid vs. generic construals. And while there is of course nothing wrong in principle with defining whatever technical concept one wishes, the question arises, in the face of this plethora of relations that go under the name of 'ontological dependence', what explanatory tasks these notions are designed to accomplish and how well they in fact meet the desiderata that are set for them. I have identified three potential measures of success by means of which particular accounts of ontological dependence may be evaluated: (i) how well they do in classifying certain paradigmatic cases of ontological dependence in a particular desired way; (ii) whether they allow for the formulation of a plausible independence criterion of substancehood; and (iii) whether they make room for the possibility of substantive non-existential disagreements in ontology over questions of fundamentality. Relative to these three goals, we have seen that modal and existential construals of ontological dependence are open to persuasive counterexamples, while essentialist accounts seem to perform more promisingly. Still, various questions remain to be addressed by essentialist accounts as well: in particular, (i) how to handle the essentialit:y of origins (if it is in fact part of the essence of certain sorts of entities to have originated from whatever they in fact originated from); (ii) whether and how hylomorphic compounds can be assigned substance status; and (iii) how a distinction may be drawn between what is taken as primitive by a particular theory or conceptual system (e.g., the number 0 or the empty set) and what is genuinely ontologically fundamental. Thus, as is to be expected, more work sti!l lies ahead for those who are sympathetic to essentialist accounts ot ontological dependence." (pp. 60-61, a note omitted)

    (1) For other useful surveys, see also Correia 2008 and Lowe 2005.

    Correia F. 2008: 'Ontological Dependence'. Philosophy Compass 3, pp. 1-20.

    Lowe E. J. 2005: 'Ontological Dependence'. In Zalta, E. N. (ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

  55. ———. 2013. "Substance, Independence and Unity." In Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, edited by Feser, Edward, 169-195. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    "Conclusion: In this chapter, I considered particular attempts by E. J. Lowe and Michael Gorman at providing an independence criterion of substancehood and argued that the stipulative exclusion of non-particulars and proper parts (or constituents) from such accounts raises difficult issues for their proponents. The results of the present discussion seem to indicate that, at least for the case of composite entities, a unity criterion of substancehood might have at least as much, and perhaps more, to offer than an independence criterion and therefore ought to be explored further by neo-Aristotelians in search of a defensible notion of substancehood.

    I indicated briefly how such a unity criterion might be used by neo-Aristotelians to support the inclusion of hylomorphic compounds in the category of substance, given the traditional role of form as the principle of unity within the compound." (p. 188)


  56. ———. 2018. Form, Matter, Substance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    "The Aristotelian doctrine of hylomorphism holds that those entities which are subsumed under it are compounds of matter (hulē) and form (morphē or eidos)." (p. 1)


    "With Chapter 5 (“Ontological Dependence”), I begin Part II (“Substance”) whose main focus is on the question of whether concrete particular objects deserve to be assigned the ontologically privileged status of substancehood within a hylomorphic ontology and, if so, according to what notion of “ontological privilege.” As noted earlier, this assignment becomes potentially problematic once concrete particular objects

    are analyzed as metaphysically complex due to their hylomorphic structure. It is common to conceive of the substances as ontologically independent, according to some preferred sense of “independence.” But what is this preferred sense of “ontological independence” and do matter–form compounds qualify as substances when we apply this notion of ontological independence to them? This chapter discusses various relations which have been defined in the literature under the heading of “ontological dependence.”

    I examine first existential construals of ontological dependence and turn next to construals of ontological dependence which are formulated in terms of a non-modal conception of essence. I argue in this chapter and Chapter 6 that even the most promising ones among these candidate relations are nevertheless open to objections when evaluated against various plausible measures of success. Chapter 5 incorporates material from Koslicki (2012a, 2013a)." (pp. 4-5)


    Koslicki, Kathrin (2012a). “Varieties of Ontological Dependence,” in Fabrice Correia and Benjamin Schnieder (eds), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 186–213.

    Koslicki, Kathrin (2013a). “Ontological Dependence: An Opinionated Survey,” in Miguel Hoeltje, Benjamin Schnieder, and Alex Steinberg (eds), Varieties of Dependence: Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence. Philosophia Verlag: München, pp. 31–64.

  57. Kovacs, David Mark. 2018. "The Deflationary Theory of Ontological Dependence." Philosophical Quarterly no. 68:481-502.

    Abstract: "When an entity ontologically depends on another entity, the former ‘presupposes’ or ‘requires’ the latter in some metaphysical sense. This paper defends a novel view, Dependence Deflationism, according to which ontological dependence is what I call an aggregative cluster concept: a concept which can be understood, but not fully analysed, as a ‘weighted total’ of constructive (roughly: mereological in the broadest possible sense) and modal relations. The view has several benefits: it accounts for clear cases of ontological dependence as well as the source of disagreement in controversial ones; it gives a nice story about the evidential relevance of modal, mereological and set-theoretic facts to ontological dependence; and it makes sense of debates over the relation’s formal properties. One important upshot of the deflationary account is that questions of ontological dependence are generally less deep and less interesting than usually thought."

  58. ———. 2020. "Constitution and Dependence." Journal of Philosophy no. 117:150-177.

    Abstract: "Constitution is the relation that holds between an object and what it is made of: statues are constituted by the lumps of matter they coincide with; flags, one may think, are constituted by colored pieces of cloth; and perhaps human persons are constituted by biological organisms. Constitution is often thought to be a "dependence relation." In this paper, I argue that given some plausible theses about ontological dependence, most definitions of constitution don’t allow us to retain this popular doctrine. The best option for those who want to maintain that constitution is a dependence relation is to endorse a kind of mereological hylomorphism: constituted objects have their constituters as proper parts, along with a form, which is another proper part. The upshot is that constitution theorists who think of constitution as a dependence relation but are reluctant to endorse mereological hylomorphism ought to give up one of their commitments."