Ontological Dependence

Tuomas Tahko, E.J. Lowe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Ontological dependence is a relation—or, more accurately, a family of relations—between entities or beings. For there are various ways in which one being may be said to depend upon one or more other beings, in a sense of “depend” that is distinctly metaphysical in character and that may be contrasted, thus, with various causal senses of this word. More specifically, a being may be said to depend, in such a sense, upon one or more other beings for its existence or for its identity. Some varieties of ontological dependence may be analyzed in modal terms—that is, in terms of distinctly metaphysical notions of possibility and necessity—while others seem to demand an analysis in terms of the notion of essence. The latter varieties of ontological dependence may accordingly be called species of essential dependence. Notions of ontological dependence are frequently called upon by metaphysicians in their proposed analyses of other metaphysically important notions, such as the notion of substance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
EditorsEdward N. Zalta
PublisherThe Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Metaphysics
  • Ontology
  • Ontological Dependence
  • Dependence


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