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Groundedness in Philosophical Logic

In winter 2012, the PPP project at Birkbeck and the Bristol Philosophy Department jointly host a four sessions research seminar. It is convened by Mr Jönne Speck and dedicated to grounded truth, grounded class theories as well as grounded abstraction principles.

Seminar description

Since the project Plurals, Predicates and Paradox was launched in Spring 2010, the notion of groundedness has been touched upon in various contexts. So far, however, it has not been addressed directly. This seminar now will be dedicated to detailed discussion of groundedness. Thus, it will provide an important building block to the project as a whole. Its goal is to let the participant engage with the various conceptions in the literature and enable her to form a view on groundedness herself.

The relevant literature is rather heterogeneous and the views on groundedness are not always transparent. Therefore, the seminar will involve some amount of exegetic work. Then, the findings will be evaluated by the following criteria.

Guiding Questions

  • Independence: Is groundedness a basic or a derived notion?
  • Adequacy: Does it apply to paradigm examples?
  • Precision: How sharp is the conception? Does it rule out rule out non-examples?
  • Philosophical substance:
    1. Does the notion enrich our explanatory tool kit? When we call something grounded, does this increase or specify our understanding of it?
    2. Does the notion at hand strengthen our argumentative arsenal? If something has been identified as grounded, does this allow new interesting conclusions? Does it simplify existent arguments

We will also have a look at formal definitions of groundedness, and ask

  • How well does the definition capture which philosophical understanding?
  • Does it collapse into some well-known mathematical concept?
  • Does it have interesting mathematical applications?


The seminar will consist of four two-hour sessions. Each session is based on one main and a number of optional readings. The participants are presumed to have formed some understanding of the main readings.

As it befits a research seminar in philosophy, the sessions will be informal. A short presentation of the main facts is followed by discussion.


All the readings will be made available to the participants.

Tuesday, 14 Feb: Semantic Groundedness: Yablo

  • Yablo 1982 `Grounding, Dependence and Paradox' (main)
  • Kripke 1975 `Outline of a Theory of Truth': pp. 693–4, 701–6 (background)
  • Herzberger 1970 `Paradoxes of Grounding in Semantics'
  • Maudlin 2004 `Truth and Paradox': pp. 29–31, 36–42, 49–55

Wednesday, 22 Feb: Semantic Groundedness: Leitgeb

  • Leitgeb 2005 `What Truth Depends On' (main)
  • Bonnay and van Vugt ‘What Makes a Sentence be about the World?’, MS
  • Toby Meadows ‘Truth, Dependence and Supervaluation: Living with the Ghost’, MS

Tuesday, 28 Feb: Groundedness and Abstraction

  • Horsten and Leitgeb (2009) 'How Abstraction Works' (main)
  • Leitgeb ‘Grounded Abstraction’, MS
  • Horsten and Linnebo ‘Term Models for Abstraction Principles’, MS

Wednesday, 21 March: Grounded Classes