Dispositions and Interferences

Philosophical Studies 165 (2):401-419 (2013)
Abstract
The Simple Counterfactual Analysis (SCA) was once considered the most promising analysis of disposition ascriptions. According to SCA, disposition ascriptions are to be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals. In the last few decades, however, SCA has become the target of a battery of counterexamples. In all counterexamples, something seems to be interfering with a certain object’s having or not having a certain disposition thus making the truth-values of the disposition ascription and of its associated counterfactual come apart. Intuitively, however, it would seem that, if all interferences were absent, the disposition ascription and its associated conditional would have the same truth-value. Although this idea may seem obvious, it is far from obvious how to implement it. In fact, it has become widely assumed that the content of qualifying ceteris paribus clauses (such as ‘if all interferences were absent’) cannot be specified in a clear and non-circular manner. In this paper, I will argue that this assumption is wrong. I will develop an analysis of disposition ascriptions, the Interference-Free Counterfactual Analysis, which relies on a clear and non-circular definition of the notion of interference and avoids the standard counterexamples to SCA while vindicating the intuition that disposition ascriptions and counterfactual conditionals are intimately related. (Please note that an erratum has been issued for the published version of this paper. It is recommended to read the self-archived version of the paper.)
Keywords Dispositions  Disposition ascriptions  Interferences  Finks  Mimicks  Masks  Antidotes  Intrinsic dispositions  Extrinsic dispositions  Ceteris paribus clauses
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References found in this work BETA
Lauren Ashwell (2010). Superficial Dispositionalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):635-653.
Alexander Bird (1998). Dispositions and Antidotes. Philosophical Quarterly 48 (191):227-234.
Randolph Clarke (2008). Intrinsic Finks. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):512–518.

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