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  1. Rani Lill Anjum & Stephen Mumford (2011). What We Tend to Mean. Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 1 (46):20-33.
    In this paper a dispositional account of meaning is offered. Words might dispose towards a particular or ‘literal’ meaning, but whether this meaning is actually conveyed when expressed will depend on a number of factors, such as speaker’s intentions, the context of the utterance and the background knowledge of the hearer. It is thus argued that no meaning is guaranteed or necessitated by the words used.
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  2. Paul Audi (2012). Properties, Powers, and the Subset Account of Realization. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):654-674.
    According to the subset account of realization, a property, F, is realized by another property, G, whenever F is individuated by a non-empty proper subset of the causal powers by which G is individuated (and F is not a conjunctive property of which G is a conjunct). This account is especially attractive because it seems both to explain the way in which realized properties are nothing over and above their realizers, and to provide for the causal efficacy of realized properties. (...)
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  3. Andrea Borghini & Neil E. Williams (2008). A Dispositional Theory of Possibility. Dialectica 62 (1):21–41.
    – The paper defends a naturalistic version of modal actualism according to which what is metaphysically possible is determined by dispositions found in the actual world. We argue that there is just one world—this one—and that all genuine possibilities are anchored by the dispositions exemplified in this world. This is the case regardless of whether or not those dispositions are manifested. As long as the possibility is one that would obtain were the relevant disposition manifested, it is a genuine possibility. (...)
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  4. Rachael Briggs & Daniel Nolan (2012). Epistemic Dispositions. Logos and Episteme 3 (4):629-636.
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  5. Nancy Cartwright (1989). Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement. Oxford University Press.
    Ever since David Hume, empiricists have barred powers and capacities from nature. In this book Cartwright argues that capacities are essential in our scientific world, and, contrary to empiricist orthodoxy, that they can meet sufficiently strict demands for testability. Econometrics is one discipline where probabilities are used to measure causal capacities, and the technology of modern physics provides several examples of testing capacities (such as lasers). Cartwright concludes by applying the lessons of the book about capacities and probabilities to the (...)
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  6. Sungho Choi (2010). Dispositions and Bogus Counterexamples: Reply to Lee. [REVIEW] Philosophia 38 (3):579-588.
    This paper discusses Lee’s argument that Lewis’s reformed conditional analysis of dispositions is preferable to the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. Lee’s argument is basically that there are some examples that can be adequately handled by Lewis’s analysis but cannot by the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. But I will reveal that, when carefully understood, they spell no trouble for the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, failing to serve a motivating role for Lewis’s analysis.
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  7. Sungho Choi (2003). The Simple Conditional Analysis of Dispositions. Unpublished Article.
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  8. Randolph Clarke (2008). Intrinsic Finks. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):512–518.
    Dispositions can be finkish, prone to disappear in circumstances that would commonly trigger their characteristic manifestations. Can a disposition be finkish because of something intrinsic to the object possessing that disposition? Sungho Choi has argued that this is not possible, and many agree. Here it is argued that no good case has been made for ruling out the possibility of intrinsic finks; on the contrary, there is good reason to accept it.
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  9. Travis Dumsday (2013). Using Natural-Kind Essentialism to Defend Dispositionalism. Erkenntnis 78 (4):869-880.
    Marc Lange and Ann Whittle have independently developed an important challenge to dispositionalism, arguing that dispositions are reducible to primitive subjunctive facts. I argue in reply that by pairing dispositionalism with a certain version of natural-kind essentialism, their objection can be overcome. Moreover, such a marriage carries further advantages for the dispositionalist. My aim is therefore two-fold: to defend dispositionalism, and to give the dispositionalist some new motivation to adopt natural-kind essentialism.
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  10. Travis Dumsday (2012). Dispositions, Primitive Activities, and Essentially Active Objects. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (1):43-64.
    The question of whether there could be a physical object that is necessarily constantly active has a long history, and it has recently arisen again in the literature on dispositions. I examine and critique two proposals for affirming the possibility of such an object. I then advocate a third option, one which is workable if paired with natural-kind essentialism. Finally I briefly outline three possible implications of this view for wider debates concerning the ontology of dispositions and natural kinds.
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  11. Justin C. Fisher (2013). Dispositions, Conditionals and Auspicious Circumstances. Philosophical Studies 164 (2):443-464.
    A number of authors have suggested that a conditional analysis of dispositions must take roughly the following form: Thing X is disposed to produce response R to stimulus S just in case, if X were exposed to S and surrounding circumstances were auspicious, then X would produce R. The great challenge is cashing out the relevant notion of ‘auspicious circumstances’. I give a general argument which entails that all existing conditional analyses fail, and that there is no satisfactory way to (...)
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  12. María José García-Encinas (2011). Singular Causation Without Dispositions. Theoria 26 (1):35-50.
    Singular causation may be best understood within a dispositionalist framework. Although the details of just how a claim that this is in fact the case have not yet been fully worked out, different philosophers have made some positive contributions in this direction. In opposition to such suggestions, I claim that any possible account of singular causation in terms of real, irreducible, dispositions contains unresolvable flaws in its metaphysical foundations.First, I present two main constituents that I take to be necessary for (...)
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  13. Albert Goldfain, Barry Smith & Lindsay Cowell (2010). Dispositions and the Infectious Disease Ontology. In Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference (FOIS 2010). IOS Press.
    This paper addresses the use of dispositions in the Infectious Disease Ontology (IDO). IDO is an ontology constructed according to the principles of the Open Biomedical Ontology (OBO) Foundry and uses the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) as an upper ontology. After providing a brief introduction to disposition types in BFO and IDO, we discuss three general techniques for representing combinations of dispositions under the headings blocking dispositions, complementary dispositions, and collective dispositions. Motivating examples for each combination of dispositions is given (...)
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  14. Albert Goldfain, Barry Smith & Lindsay G. Cowell (2011). Towards an Ontological Representation of Resistance: The Case of MRSA. Journal of Biomedical Informatics 44 (1):35-41.
    This paper addresses a family of issues surrounding the biological phenomenon of resistance and its representation in realist ontologies. The treatments of resistance terms in various existing ontologies are examined and found to be either overly narrow, internally inconsistent, or otherwise problematic. We propose a more coherent characterization of resistance in terms of what we shall call blocking dispositions, which are collections of mutually coordinated dispositions which are of such a sort that they cannot undergo simultaneous realization within a single (...)
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  15. Toby Handfield (2010). Review of A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable, by Anjan Chakravartty. [REVIEW] Mind 118 (472):1118-1121.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
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  16. Janna Hastings, Werner Ceusters, Barry Smith & Kevin Mulligan (2011). Dispositions and Processes in the Emotion Ontology. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Biomedical Ontology. CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 833.
    Affective science conducts interdisciplinary research into the emotions and other affective phenomena. Currently, such research is hampered by the lack of common definitions of te rms used to describe, categorise and report both individual emotional experiences and the results of scientific investigations of such experiences. High quality ontologies provide formal definitions for types of entities in reality and for the relationships between such entities, definitions which can be used to disambiguate and unify data across different disciplines. Heretofore, there has been (...)
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  17. Jan Hauska (2008). In Defence of Causal Bases. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):23 – 43.
    C. B. Martin's finkish cases raise one of the most serious objections to conditional analyses of dispositions. David Lewis's reformed analysis is widely considered the most promising response to the objection. Despite its sophistication, however, the reformed analysis still provokes questions concerning its ability to handle finkish cases. They focus on the applicability of the analysis to 'baseless' dispositions. After sketching Martin's objection and the reformed analysis, I argue that all dispositions have causal bases which the analysis can unproblematically invoke.
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  18. Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (2012). The Regress of Pure Powers Revisited. European Journal of Philosophy 22 (2).
    The paper aims to elucidate in better detail than before the dispute about whether or not dispositional monism—the view that all basic properties are pure powers—entails a vicious infinite regress. Particular focus is on Alexander Bird's and George Molnar's attempts to show that the arguments professing to demonstrate a vicious regress are inconclusive because they presuppose what they aim to prove, notably that powers are for their nature dependent on something else. I argue that Bird and Molnar are mistaken. It (...)
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  19. Markku Keinänen (2011). Tropes – The Basic Constituents of Powerful Particulars? Dialectica 65 (3):419-450.
    This article presents a trope bundle theory of simple substances, the Strong Nuclear Theory[SNT] building on the schematic basis offered by Simons's (1994) Nuclear Theory[NT]. The SNT adopts Ellis's (2001) dispositional essentialist conception of simple substances as powerful particulars: all of their monadic properties are dispositional. Moreover, simple substances necessarily belong to some natural kind with a real essence formed by monadic properties. The SNT develops further the construction of substances the NT proposes to obtain an adequate trope bundle theory (...)
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  20. Peter Kroes (2001). Technical Functions as Dispositions. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 5 (3):105-115.
    The paper argues that in order to understand the nature of technological knowledge (i.e., knowledge of technical artefacts as distinct from knowledge of natural objects) it is necessary to develop an epistemology of technical functions. This epistemology has to address the problem of the meaning of the notion of function. In the dominant interpretations, functions are considered to be dispositions, comparable to physical dispositions such as fragility and solubility. It is argued that this conception of functions is principally flawed. With (...)
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  21. Nicky Kroll (2012). Events in Progress, Dispositions, and Teleology. Dissertation, Yale University
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  22. Noa Latham (2011). Are Fundamental Laws Necessary or Contingent? In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph Keim Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. MIT Press. 97.
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  23. Jaeho Lee (2011). Genuine Counterexamples to the Simple Conditional Analysis of Disposition: A Reply to Choi. Philosophia 39 (2):327-334.
    Choi (Philosophia, 38(3), 2010) argues that my counterexamples in Lee (Philosophia, 38(3), 2010) to the simple conditional analysis of disposition ascription are bogus counterexamples. In this paper, I argue that Choi’s arguments are not satisfactory and that my examples are genuine counterexamples.
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  24. Vassilios Livanios (2010). Symmetries, Dispositions and Essences. Philosophical Studies 148 (2):295 - 305.
    Dispositional essentialists ultimately appeal to dispositional essences in order to provide (a) an explanation of the conservation of physical quantities and (b) identity conditions for fundamental physical properties. This paper aims to offer alternative suggestions based on symmetry considerations and exhibits their consequences for the thesis of dispositional essentialism.
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  25. Alan C. Love (2003). Evolvability, Dispositions, and Intrinsicality. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1015-1027.
    In this paper I examine a dispositional property that has been receiving increased attention in biology, evolvability. First, I identify three compatible but distinct investigative approaches, distinguish two interpretations of evolvability, and treat the difference between dispositions of individuals versus populations. Second, I explore the relevance of philosophical distinctions about dispositions for evolvability, isolating the assumption that dispositions are intrinsically located. In conclusion, I argue that some instances of evolvability cannot be understood as purely intrinsic to populations and suggest alternative (...)
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  26. David Manley (2012). Dispositionality: Beyond The Biconditionals. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):321 - 334.
    Suppose dispositions bear a distinctive connection to counterfactual facts, perhaps one that could be enshrined in a variation on the well-worn schema ?Necessarily, x is disposed to ? in ? iff x would ? in ??. Could we exploit this connection to provide an account of what it is to be a disposition? This paper is about four views of dispositionality that attempt to do so.
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  27. Olivier Massin (2010). L'objectivité du toucher [The Objectivity of the Sense of Touch]. Dissertation, Aix-Marseille
    This thesis vindicates the common-sense intuition that touch is more objective than the other senses. The reason why it is so, it is argued, is that touch is the only sense essential of the experience of physical effort, and that this experience constitutes our only acquaintance with the mind-independence of the physical world. The thesis is divided in tree parts. Part I argues that sensory modalities are individuated by they proper objects, realistically construed. Part II argues that the proper objects (...)
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  28. Jennifer Mckltrick (2003). The Bare Metaphysical Possibility of Bare Dispositions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2):349–369.
    Many philosophers hold that all dispositions must have independent causal bases. I challenge this view, hence defending the possibility of bare dispositions. In part 1, I explain more fully what I mean by "disposition," "causal basis," and "bare disposition." In part 2, I consider the claim that the concept of a disposition entails that dispositions are not bare. In part 3, I consider arguments, due to Prior, Pargetter, and Jackson, that dispositions necessarily have distinct causal bases. In part 4, I (...)
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  29. Hichem Naar (2013). A Dispositional Theory of Love. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (3):342-357.
    On a naive reading of the major accounts of love, love is a kind of mental event. A recent trend in the philosophical literature on love is to reject these accounts on the basis that they do not do justice to the historical dimension of love, as love essentially involves a distinctive kind of temporally extended pattern. Although the historicist account has advantages over the positions that it opposes, its appeal to the notion of a pattern is problematic. I will (...)
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  30. Harold W. Noonan (2010). Bird Against the Humeans. Ratio 23 (1):73-86.
    Debate between Humean contingentists and anti-Humean necessitarians in the philosophy of science is ongoing. One of the most important contemporary anti-Humeans is Alexander Bird. Bird calls the particular version of Humeanism he is opposed to 'categoricalism'. In his paper (2005) and in Chapter 4 of his book (2007) Bird argues against categoricalism about properties and laws. His arguments against categoricalism about properties are intended to support the necessitarian position he calls dispositional monism. His arguments against categoricalism about laws are intended (...)
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  31. Elizabeth Prior, Robert Pargetter & Frank Jackson (1982). Three Theses About Dispositions. American Philosophical Quarterly 19 (3):251-257.
    I. Causal Thesis: Dispositions have a causal basis. II. Distinctness Thesis: Dispositions are distinct from their causal basis. III. Impotence Thesis: Dispositions are not causally active.
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  32. Stathis Psillos (2006). What Do Powers Do When They Are Not Manifested? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (1):137-156.
    In the present paper, I offer a conceptual argument against the view that all properties are pure powers. I claim that thinking of all properties as pure powers leads to a regress. The regress, I argue, can be solved only if non-powers are admitted. The kernel of my thesis is that any attempt to answer the title question in an informative way will undermine a pure-power view of properties. In particular, I focus my critique on recent arguments in favour of (...)
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  33. Luke Robinson (2014). Obligating Reasons, Moral Laws, and Moral Dispositions. Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (1):1-34.
  34. Luke Robinson (2013). A Dispositional Account of Conflicts of Obligation. Noûs 47 (2):203-228.
    I address a question in moral metaphysics: How are conflicts between moral obligations possible? I begin by explaining why we cannot give a satisfactory answer to this question simply by positing that such conflicts are conflicts between rules, principles, or reasons. I then develop and defend the “Dispositional Account,” which posits that conflicts between moral obligations are conflicts between the manifestations of obligating dispositions (obligating powers, capacities, etc.), just as conflicts between physical forces are conflicts between the manifestations of (certain) (...)
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  35. Luke Robinson (2011). Moral Principles As Moral Dispositions. Philosophical Studies 156 (2):289-309.
    What are moral principles? In particular, what are moral principles of the sort that (if they exist) ground moral obligations or—at the very least—particular moral truths? I argue that we can fruitfully conceive of such principles as real, irreducibly dispositional properties of individual persons (agents and patients) that are responsible for and thereby explain the moral properties of (e.g.) agents and actions. Such moral dispositions (or moral powers) are apt to be the metaphysical grounds of moral obligations and of particular (...)
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  36. Christoph Schmidt-Petri (2008). Cartwright and Mill on Tendencies and Capacities. In Luc Bovens, Carl Hoefer & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Nancy Cartwright's Philosophy of Science. Routledge. 291--302.
    This paper examines the relation between Cartwright's concept of 'capacities' and Mill's concept of 'tendencies' and argues that they are not equivalent. Cartwright's concept of 'capacities' and her motivation to adopt it as a central notion in her philosophy of science are described. It is argued that the Millian concept of 'tendencies' is distinct because Mill restricts its use to a set of special cases. These are the cases in which causes combine 'mechanically'. Hence for Mill 'tendencies' do not merely (...)
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  37. Nicholas Shackel (2011). The World as a Graph: Defending Metaphysical Graphical Structuralism. Analysis 71 (1):10-21.
    Metaphysical graphical structuralism is the view that at some fundamental level the world is a mathematical graph of nodes and edges. Randall Dipert has advanced a graphical structuralist theory of fundamental particulars and Alexander Bird has advanced a graphical structuralist theory of fundamental properties. David Oderberg has posed a powerful challenge to graphical structuralism: that it entails the absurd inexistence of the world or the absurd cessation of all change. In this paper I defend graphical structuralism. A sharper formulation, some (...)
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  38. Michael Hector Storck (2008). Parts, Wholes, and Presence by Power A Response to Gordon P. Barnes. Review of Metaphysics 62 (1):45-59.
    Gordon P. Barnes has recently argued that presence by power is inadequate as an explanation of the way elements are present in complex bodies, and that it would be better to explain the elements’ presence by claiming that simpler substances—carbon atoms, for example—are actually and substantially present in living things. In order to address his arguments, this paper begins by briefly presenting St. Thomas’s understanding of presence by power, and then argues that Barnes’s proposal—that there is a multiplicity of substantial (...)
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  39. Barry Taylor (1999). Comments on David Lewis:'Finkish Dispositions'. In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer. 157--159.
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  40. Brandon N. Towl (2010). The Individuation of Causal Powers by Events (and Consequences of the Approach). Metaphysica 11 (1):49-61.
    In this paper, I explore the notion of a “causal power”, particularly as it is relevant to a theory of properties whereby properties are individuated by the causal powers they bestow on the objects that instantiate them. I take as my target certain eliminativist positions that argue that certain kinds of properties (or relations) do not exist because they fail to bestow unique causal powers on objects. But the notion of a causal powers is inextricably bound up with our notion (...)
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  41. Matthew Tugby (2012). Rescuing Dispositionalism From the Ultimate Problem: Reply to Barker and Smart. Analysis 72 (4):723-731.
    Barker and Smart have argued that dispositional monism is just as susceptible to the ultimate regress problem as Armstrong’s contingent necessitation view of laws. In this response, I consider what implications this conclusion has for the dispositional essentialist project more generally. I argue that it is the monistic aspect of dispositional monism, rather than the dispositional essentialist aspect, which is the source of the problem raised by Barker and Smart. I then outline a version of dispositional essentialism which avoids the (...)
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  42. Barbara Vetter (2013). Multi‐Track Dispositions. Philosophical Quarterly 63 (251):330-352.
    It is a familiar point that many ordinary dispositions are multi-track, that is, not fully and adequately characterisable by a single conditional. In this paper, I argue that both the extent and the implications of this point have been severely underestimated. First, I provide new arguments to show that every disposition whose stimulus condition is a determinable quantity must be infinitely multi-track. Secondly, I argue that this result should incline us to move away from the standard assumption that dispositions are (...)
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  43. Jennifer Wang (forthcoming). The Modal Limits of Dispositionalism. Noûs.
    Dispositionality is a modal notion of a certain sort. When an object is said to have a disposition, we typically understand this to mean that under certain circumstances, the object would behave in a certain way. For instance, a fragile object is disposed to break when dropped onto a concrete surface. It need not actually break - its being fragile has implications that, so to speak, point beyond the actual world. According to dispositionalism, all modal features of the world may (...)
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  44. Ryan Wasserman (2011). Dispositions and Generics. Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):425-453.
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  45. Neil Williams, Intrinsic Powers.
    – Common to most realist accounts of powers is the claim that they are intrinsic properties. Most arguments presented in defence of the intrinsicality thesis have as their targets reductive treatments of powers that conceive of powers as relations between the object described as possessing the power and either some previous manifestation event or the laws of nature. However, even if these arguments are successful, they fail to establish that powers are intrinsic properties; at best they demonstrate the irreducibility of (...)
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  46. Neil Edward Williams (2005). Static and Dynamic Dispositions. Synthese 146 (3):303 - 324.
    When it comes to scientific explanation, our parsimonious tendencies mean that we focus almost exclusively on those dispositions whose manifestations result in some sort of change – changes in properties, locations, velocities and so on. Following this tendency, our notion of causation is one that is inherently dynamic, as if the maintenance of the status quo were merely a given. Contrary to this position, I argue that a complete concept of causation must also account for dispositions whose manifestations involve no (...)
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  47. Fred Wilson (1969). Dispositions: Defined or Reduced? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2):184 – 204.
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  48. Juhani Yli-Vakkuri (2010). Conditional and Habitual Analyses of Disposition Ascriptions. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):624-630.
    Michael Fara's ‘habitual analysis’ of disposition ascriptions is equivalent to a kind of ceteris paribus conditional analysis which has no evident advantage over Martin's well known and simpler analysis. I describe an unsatisfactory hypothetical response to Martin's challenge, which is lacking in just the same respect as the analysis considered by Martin; Fara's habitual analysis is equivalent to this hypothetical analysis. The feature of the habitual analysis that is responsible for this cannot be harmlessly excised, for the resulting analysis would (...)
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Bare Dispositions
  1. Troy Cross (2012). Goodbye, Humean Supervenience. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 7:129-153.
    Reductionists about dispositions must either say the natural properties are all dispositional or individuate properties hyperintensionally. Lewis stands in as an example of the sort of combination I think is incoherent: properties individuated by modal profile + categoricalism.
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  2. Toby Handfield (2008). Unfinkable Dispositions. Synthese 160 (2):297 - 308.
    This paper develops two ideas with respect to dispositional properties: (1) Adapting a suggestion of Sungho Choi, it appears the conceptual distinction between dispositional and categorical properties can be drawn in terms of susceptibility to finks and antidotes. Dispositional, but not categorical properties, are not susceptible to intrinsic finks, nor are they remediable by intrinsic antidotes. (2) If correct, this suggests the possibility that some dispositions—those which lack any causal basis—may be insusceptible to any fink or antidote. Since finks and (...)
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