Philosophers from Leibniz to John Heil have proposed the reduction/elimination of relations to non-relational features of their relata; essentially, they seek to formulate an ontology which does not contain relations as fundamental.

Presumably, with the modern excitement surrounding grounding, even those who reject ontologically fundamental relations might wish to utilise the so called metaphysical power of grounding.

I am looking for any articles/books that contain non-relational accounts of grounding. (Insofar as grounding is taken to be primitive, and some do not wish to admit relations into their ontology, some non-relational account of grounding will be needed).

So far my searches have come up dry.

  • 1
    Maybe I am missing something, but the traditional approach in analytic philosophy endorses ontology without any relations, fundamental or otherwise. Under Quine's criterion of ontological commitment, to be is to be a value of a bound variable, and in the favored first order logic one does not quantify over predicates. Relations are, therefore, replaced by linguistic devices. So if you want ontology without relations eliminativism is readily available, see SEP's Logical form of grounding statements.
    – Conifold
    Jan 9, 2019 at 9:53
  • This sections looks interesting - I'll take a look and refer back. Jan 9, 2019 at 13:51
  • Any doctrine of Unity will be grounded without fundamental relations. Consider advaita (not-two) Vedanta. If there are not two things there can be no fundamental relations. The Perennial philosophy does not reify relations so you could look into advaita, Middle Way Buddhism, Sufism, Philosophical Taoism, Absolute Idealism and so forth. You're spoilt for choice. , .
    – user20253
    Jan 9, 2019 at 14:22
  • Not necessarily. In a ontic framework comprising either universals or tropes, these are taken to be fundamental, even if there is a possible world which does not contain any. So we cannot reason from "there are not two things" to "there are no fundamental relations"; the entailment does not hold. But my issue is also not with denying ontologically fundamental relations. I am starting with an ontology that does not include them. My question regards what accounts of grounding are available that do not take it to be a relation. Jan 9, 2019 at 14:42
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    Well, SEP refers to Fine and Correia, whose paper seems pretty Quinean to me. But remember how non-chalante Quine is about metaphysics ("bridge of our own making", "bringing together scettered sense events"), so the "footwork" required is pretty pragmatic. Grounding is basically meant to replace supervenience, as in e.g. Davidson's anomalous monism about the mental, and that was always done at the linguistic level with mentalist vs physicalist predicates.
    – Conifold
    Jan 9, 2019 at 20:27


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