The deflationary theory of ontological dependence

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-502
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number272
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Cluster concepts
  • Deflationary ontology
  • Determination
  • Grounding
  • Ontological dependence
  • Symmetric dependence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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