Dispositions unmasked

Theoria 75 (4):304-335 (2009)
Abstract
The problem of masking is widely regarded as a grave threat to the conditional analysis of dispositions. Unlike the difficulty arising in connection with finkish situations, the problem does not involve the (dis)appearance of a disposition upon the arrival of its activating conditions. Consequently, some promising responses to the finkish cases, in particular David Lewis's reformed analysis, are ill-equipped to deal with masks. I contend that the difficulty posed by masks can be surmounted by supplementing the counterfactual at the heart of the conditional analysis with a ceteris paribus clause. In spelling out this idea, I first examine the issue of provisos in nomic statements. Then I show how the employment of the ceteris paribus clause escapes the objections that are often raised against it, including the charge that the clause cannot informatively capture all the possible masks of a disposition.
Keywords ceteris paribus clauses  masks  conditional analysis  dispositional properties
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    References found in this work BETA
    D. M. Armstrong (1993). A World of States of Affairs. Philosophical Perspectives 7:429-440.
    Alexander Bird (1998). Dispositions and Antidotes. Philosophical Quarterly 48 (191):227-234.

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