Defining disposition concepts: A brief history of the problem

The aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly, I give a brief account of the history of the debate on the problem of defining disposition concepts from its beginning in the late 1920s until today. This account is divided into four parts, corresponding with sections 2 to 5 of the paper, each of which deals with a major period of the debate. Section 2 reports up to the mid-1950s. Section 3 deals with important contributions to the discussion between 1955 and 1958. However, the progress made around that time was far ahead of the logical theory and techniques which were needed for foundational reasons and for a better understanding of the basic notions. Some logical techniques appropriate for that aim were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though not uncontroversial, those logical techniques resulted in improvements of the insights gained in the mid-1950s; I shall report on those logical techniques and their application to the problem of defining disposition concepts in Section 4. In the early 1990s, however, the whole tradition of defining disposition concepts in terms of conditionals has been challenged by some strong counter-examples which are treated in Section 5. Finally, the second of the aims of this paper is explored in Section 6, in which I sketch very briefly the current stage of the debate by discussing and evaluating the most recent approaches to the subject.
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(00)00042-X
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (1973). Causation. Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
David Lewis (1997). Finkish Dispositions. Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):143-158.
C. B. Martin (1994). Dispositions and Conditionals. Philosophical Quarterly 44 (174):1-8.
Alexander Bird (1998). Dispositions and Antidotes. Philosophical Quarterly 48 (191):227-234.
Rudolf Carnap (1936). Testability and Meaning. Philosophy of Science 3 (4):419-471.

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