For the last several decades, dispositionalproperties have been one of the main topics in metaphysics. Still, however, there is little agreement among contemporary metaphysicians on the nature of dispositionalproperties. Apparently, though, the majority of them have reached the consensus that dispositional ascriptions cannot be analysed in terms of simple counterfactual conditionals. In this paper it will be brought to light that this consensus is wrong. Specifically, I will argue that the simple conditional analysis (...) of dispositions, which is generally thought to be dead, is in fact an adequate analysis of dispositions. I will go on to discuss Mumford’s view of dispositions from the perspective of the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. (shrink)
One controversial position in the debate over dispositional and categorical properties maintains that our concepts of these properties are the result of partially considering unitary properties that are both dispositional and categorical. As one of its defenders (Heil 2005 , p. 351) admits, this position is typically met with “incredulous stares”. In this paper, I examine whether such a reaction is warranted. This thesis about properties is an instance of what I call “the Partial (...) Consideration Strategy”—i.e., the strategy of claiming that what were formerly thought of as distinct entities are actually a unified entity, partially considered. By evaluating its use in other debates, I uncover a multi-layered prima facie case against the use of the Partial Consideration Strategy in the dispositional/categorical properties debate. In closing, I describe how the Partial Consideration Strategy can be reworked in a way that would allow it to sidestep this prima facie case. (shrink)
An analysis of problematic dispositional predicates like 'soluble' is presented. The analysis attempts to combine cogent features of opposed previous analyses of Carnap and Bergmann, while avoiding problematic features of both. The suggestion that there is an ambiguity in negations of assertions of dispositionalproperties, and a consequent distinction between "not soluble" and "insoluble," lies at the core of the solution.
This Thesis engages with contemporary philosophical controversies about the nature of dispositionalproperties or powers and the relationship they have to their non-dispositional counterparts. The focus concerns fundamentality. In particular, I seek to answer the question, ‘What fundamental properties suffice to account for the manifest world?’ The answer I defend is that fundamental categorical properties need not be invoked in order to derive a viable explanation for the manifest world. My stance is a field-theoretic view (...) which describes the world as a single system comprised of pure power, and involves the further contention that ‘pure power’ should not be interpreted as ‘purely dispositional’, if dispositionality means potentiality, possibility or otherwise unmanifested power or ability bestowed upon some bearer. The theoretical positions examined include David Armstrong’s Categoricalism, Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties, Brian Ellis’s New Essentialism, Ullin Place’s Conceptualism, Charles Martin’s and John Heil’s Identity Theory of Properties and Rom Harré’s Theory of Causal Powers. The central concern of this Thesis is to examine reasons for holding a pure-power theory, and to defend such a stance. This involves two tasks. The first requires explaining what plays the substance role in a pure-power world. This Thesis argues that fundamental power, although not categorical, can be considered ontologically-robust and thus able to fulfil the substance role. A second task—answering the challenge put forward by Richard Swinburne and thereafter replicated in various neo-Swinburne arguments—concerns how the manifestly qualitative world can be explained starting from a pure-power base. The Light-like Network Account is put forward in an attempt to show how the manifest world can be derived from fundamental pure power. (shrink)
This paper identifies an overdetermination problem faced by the non-reductive dispositional property account of disposition ascriptions. Two possible responses to the problem are evaluated and both are shown to have serious drawbacks. Finally it is noted that the traditional conditional analysis of dispositional ascriptions escapes the original difficulty.
This paper largely engages with Brian Ellis’s description of categorical dimensions as put forward in his paper in this volume. The New Essentialism advocated by Ellis posits the ontologically-robust existence of both dispositional and categorical properties. I have argued that the distinction that Ellis draws between the two is unpersuasive, and that the causal role of categorical dimensions—what they do—is inseparable from what they are. This observation is reinforced by the fact that absolute physical quantities permit re-interpretations of (...) measurement that remove a clear differentiation between categoricity and dispositionality. Distinguishing between ‘pure power’ and ‘dispositionality’, I further argue that: i) there are no ontologically-robust categorical properties, although their apparent existence is explicable as higher-order and supervenient; ii) that the fundamental ingredients of the world may be accounted for in terms of pure-power that is neither categorical nor dispositional; and iii) that the categorical-dispositional distinction arises only at the higher-order level of objects, and does not in any case constitute ontologically-robust partitioning of reality. -/- . (shrink)
One view of the nature of properties has been crystallized in recent debate by an identity thesis proposed by Shoemaker. The general idea is that there is for behaviour. Well-known criticisms of this approach, however, remain unanswered, and the details of its connections to laws nothing more to being a particular causal property than conferring certain dispositions of nature and the precise ontology of causal properties stand in need of development. This paper examines and defends a dispositional (...) essentialist account of causal properties, combining a Shoemaker-type identity thesis with a Dretske, Tooley, and Armstrong-type view that laws are relations between properties, and a realism about dispositions. The property identity thesis is defended against standard epistemological and metaphysical objections. The metaphysics of causal properties is then clarified by a consideration of the laws relating them, vacuous laws, and ceteris paribus law statements. (shrink)
Assuming the increasingly popular background independent substantivalist interpretation of general relativity (GR), in this paper I show that the possibility of spacetime point permutations implies that the locational properties of spacetime points, and structural properties of spacetime are categorical. Categorical properties, however, are often deemed implausible by dispositional monists (Bird 2007; Mumford 2004) due to their quiddistic nature, as their primitive identity entails the unacceptable possibility of properties changing their causal role across possible worlds. The (...) question of whether such properties, or instances thereof are plausible is not addressed in this paper, however I demonstrate that despite locational and structural properties being categorical, they are not quiddistic (at least no more so than powers), and thus a metaphysics of science including both dispositional and categorical properties is admissible for the anti-quidditist. I conclude that although dispositional monism is incompatible with background independent substantivalist models of general relativity, this does not wholly undermine the position. (shrink)
It has been widely assumed that we do not perceive dispositionalproperties. I argue that there are two ways of interpreting this assumption. On the first, extensional, interpretation whether we perceive dispositions depends on a complex set of metaphysical commitments. But if we interpret the claim in the second, intensional, way, then we have no reason to suppose that we do not perceive dispositionalproperties. The two most important and influential arguments to the contrary fail.
: It is widely thought that dispositionalproperties depend upon categorical properties; specifying the nature of this dependency, however, has proven a difficult task. The dependency of dispositionalproperties upon categorical properties also presents a challenge to the thesis of Physicalism: If the physical sciences only tell us about the dispositionalproperties of the objects they study and if dispositionalproperties depend upon categorical properties, then it appears that there (...) will be kind of property—categorical properties—that will escape description by the physical sciences. This paper argues that a new theory of dispositional and categorical properties, a theory put forth by C.B. Martin and John Heil, solves both of these problems: It presents a way of understanding the sense in which dispositionalproperties depend upon categorical properties that has major advantages over more popular accounts of this dependency and it also provides a new and interesting Physicalist response to the challenge presented by categorical properties. (shrink)
The ontology of ‘powerful qualities’ is gaining an increasing amount of attention in the literature on properties. This is the view that the so-called categorical or qualitative properties are identical with ‘dispositional’ properties. The position is associated with C.B. Martin, John Heil, Galen Strawson and Jonathan Jacobs. Robert Schroer ( 2012 ) has recently mounted a number of criticisms against the powerful qualities view as conceived by these main adherents, and has also advanced his own (radically (...) different) version of the view. In this paper I have three main aims: firstly, I shall defend the ontology from his critique, arguing that his criticisms do not damage the position. Secondly, I shall argue that Schroer’s own version of the view is untenable. Thirdly, the paper shall serve to clear up some conceptual confusions that often bedevil the powerful qualities view. (shrink)
Post-Gibson attempts to set out a definition of affordance generally agree that this notion can be understood as a property of the environment with salience for an organism’s behavior. According to this view, some scholars advocate the idea that affordances are dispositionalproperties of physical objects that, given suitable circumstances, necessarily actualize related actions. This paper aims at assessing this statement in light of a theory of affordance perception. After years of discontinuity between strands of empirical and theoretical (...) research, the time is ripe for addressing the question of whether the dispositional interpretation of affordance is in accordance with some recent evidence from cognitive science and neuroscience. Following this line, I clarify that there are some cases of affordance-related effects that neither require the actualization of an action, nor the presence of an action-related property bearer in the environment, and that the identification of affordance with physical properties provides only a partial explanation of the wide range of affordance-related effects. Accordingly, I argue in favor of a more general account of affordance perception based on the ability to directly detect perceptual patterns in the environment. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the requirement for the qualitative is theory-dependent, determined by the fundamental assumptions built into the ontology. John Heil’s qualitative, in its role as individuator of objects and powers, is required only by a theory that posits a world of distinct objects or powers. Does Heil’s ‘deep’ view of the world, such that there is only one powerful object (e.g. a field containing modes or properties which we perceive as manifest everyday objects) require the (...) qualitative as individuator of objects and powers? The answer depends on whether it is possible to account for the manifest objects and the ostensible spatial primacy of our perceived world without recourse to the qualitative. In this paper I outline just such an account with the intention of extending Heil’s efforts to incorporate fundamental power in the world while providing a coherent explanation for our strong intuition of spatial, as against relational, priority. (shrink)
In an earlier paper in these pages (2008), we explored the puzzling link between dispositions and conditionals. First, we rehearsed the standard counterexamples to the simple conditional analysis and the refined conditional analysis defended by David Lewis. Second, we attacked a tempting response to these counterexamples: what we called the ‘getting specific strategy’. Third, we presented a series of structural considerations that pose problems for many attempts to understand the link between dispositions and conditionals. Finally, we developed our own account (...) of this link, which avoids all of the standard counterexamples and comports with the relevant structural considerations. In this paper, we reply to some objections. (shrink)
Many predicates are dispositional. Some show this by a suffix like "-ible", -uble", or "-able": sugar is soluble in water, gasoline is flammable. Others have no such suffix and don't wear their dispositionality on their sleeves. Yet part of what it is to be solid is to be disposed to resist deformation, and part of what it is to be red is to appear red to normal human observers in normal lighting conditions. However, there is no agreement as to (...) whether dispositional predicates may be given a realist interpretation. For many authors, propositions containing them are made true by states of affairs (or facts) containing categorical, rather than dispositionalproperties. Many also claim that the states of affairs that make true attributions of dispositions to macroscopic objects are microscopic states of affairs concerning their parts. For example, what makes a vase fragile is the microscopic structure of its molecular constituents, which is what makes the vase break when it falls. Against these claims, I will argue that what makes a dispositional predicate apply to an object, whether macroscopic or microscopic, whether in common sense or science, is the object's having what I will call a powerful property. If the object is macroscopic, it is another matter whether the property is microreducible. My reasons for supposing that these powerful properties exist are those for postulating theoretical properties generally: they unify existing explanations and suggest new ones. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the role of dispositionalproperties in the most frequently discussed interpretations of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. After offering some motivation for this project, I briefly characterize the distinction between non-dispositional and dispositionalproperties in the context of quantum mechanics by suggesting a necessary condition for dispositionality – namely contextuality – and, consequently, a sufficient condition for non-dispositionality, namely non-contextuality. Having made sure that the distinction is conceptually sound, I then analyze the (...) plausibility of the widespread, monistic ontological thesis about the reducibility of dispositionalproperties to categorical properties in the context of the philosophy of quantum mechanics. I conclude that with the exception of Bohmian mechanics, the other “minimally realist” views of quantum mechanics require essential dispositions, i.e., dispositions of a non-reducible kind. Interestingly, seen behind the lenses of dispositionalism, Bohr’s and Bohm’s interpretations of quantum mechanics are much closer than it is usually recognized, a fact that could teach us something about the way the quantum world is. (shrink)
After some suggestions about how to clarify the confused metaphysical distinctions between dispositional and non-dispositional or categorical properties, I review some of the main interpretations of QM in order to show that – with the relevant exception of Bohm’s minimalist interpretation – quantum ontology is irreducibly dispositional. Such an irreducible character of dispositions must be explained differently in different interpretations, but the reducibility of the contextual properties in the case of Bohmian mechanics is guaranteed by (...) the fact that the positions of particles play the role of the categorical basis, a role that in other interpretations cannot be filled by anything else. In Bohr’s and Everett-type interpretations, dispositionalism is instrumentalism in disguise. (shrink)
Several prominent philosophers have held that physical properties are dispositions. The aim of this paper is to establish the following conjunction: if the thesis that physical properties are dispositions is unsupplemented by controversial assumptions about dispositions, it entails a contradiction; and if it is so supplemented the resulting theory has the consequence that either many worlds which seem to be possible worlds are not possible worlds or some properties which seem to be identical are not identical. In (...) this way it is shown that a dispositional account of physical properties is implausible. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists argue that physical properties have their causal roles essentially. This is typically taken to mean that physical properties are identical to dispositions. I argue that this is untenable, and that we must instead say that properties bestow dispositions. I explore what it is for a property to have such a role essentially. Dispositional essentialists argue for their view by citing certain epistemological and metaphysical implications, and I appeal to these implications to place desiderata (...) on the concept of essence involved. I argue that the traditional modal theory of essence meets these desiderata, but that the resulting theory wrongly implies that certain dispositions essential to mass are essential to charge, thereby offering a new argument against modal theories of essence. I argue that dispositional essentialism requires a primitive notion of essence, and develop a primitivist theory based on Kit Fine's views. I show that the primitivist theory has all the virtues of the modal alternative, and none of the vices. I develop a novel way of thinking about the relationship between properties, laws and dispositions, and argue that it has distinct advantages over standard dispositional essentialist formulations. (shrink)
The debate between emergentists and reductionists rests on the observation that in many situations, in which it seems desirable to work with a coherent and unified discourse, key predicates fall into different groups, such that pairs of members one taken from each group, cannot be co-predicated of some common subject. Must we settle for ‘island’ discourses in science and human affairs or is some route to a unified discourse still open? To make progress towards resolving the issue the conditions under (...) which such segregations of predicates seem inexorable must be brought out. The distinction between determinable and determinate properties throws light on some aspects of this problem. Bohr’s concept of complementarity, when combined with Gibson’s idea of an affordances as a special class of dispositionalproperties is helpful. Several seeming problems melt away, for example, how it is possible for a group of notes to become hearable as a melody. The mind-body problem and the viability of the project of reducing biology to chemistry and physics are two issues that are more difficult to deal with. Are mental phenomena, such as feelings and memories emergent from material systems or are they actually material properties themselves? Are the attributes of living beings emergent from certain accidental but long running collocations of chemical reactions, or are they nothing but chemical phenomena? If emergent, in what way are they distinctive from that from which they emerge? (shrink)
This book aims to develop a philosophical theory of extrinsic properties – of properties whose instantiation by an object does not only depend on what the object itself is like, but also on features of its environment. Various accounts of the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction are analysed in detail, and it is argued that the most promising approach to defining this distinction is to consider extrinsic properties as a particular type of relational property. Moreover, it is shown that two (...) key notions in the metaphysics of properties, the supervenience relation and the dispositional/categorical distinction, whose scope is usually restricted to intrinsic properties, can fruitfully be applied to extrinsic properties as well. (shrink)
Dispostions, such as solubility, cannont be reduced to categorical properties, such as molecular structure, without some element of dipositionaity remaining. Democritus did not reduce all properties to the geometry of atoms - he had to retain the rigidity of the atoms, that is, their disposition not to change shape when a force is applied. So dispositions-not-to, like rigidity, cannot be eliminated. Neither can dispositions-to, like solubility.
A dispositional property is a tendency, or potency, to manifest some characteristic behaviour in some appropriate context. The mainstream view in the twentieth century was that such properties are to be explained in terms of more fundamental non-dispositionalproperties, together with the laws of nature. In the last few decades, however, a rival view has become popular, according to which some properties are essentially dispositional in nature, and the laws of nature are to be (...) explained in terms of these fundamental dispositions. The supposed ability of fundamental dispositions to ground natural laws is one of the most attractive features of the dispositional essentialist position. In this paper, however, I cast doubt on the ability of dispositional essences to ground the laws of nature. In particular I argue that the dispositional essentialist position is not able to coherently respond?sympathetically or otherwise?to Cartwright's challenge that there are no true general laws of nature. (shrink)
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.
– 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. (...) Furthermore, by starting from actual dispositionalproperties and branching out, we are able to include possibilities that are quite far removed from any state of affairs that happens to obtain, while still providing a natural and actual grounding of possibility. Stressing the importance of ontological considerations in any theory of possibility, it is argued that the account of possibility in terms of dispositionalproperties provides a more palatable ontology than those of its competitors. Coming at it from the other direction, the dispositional account of possibility also provides motivation for taking an ontology of dispositions more seriously. As well as the relevant dispositional notions required to lay out the view, the paper discusses the dispositional realism needed as the basis for the account of possibility. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists claim that dispositionalproperties are essentially dispositional: a property would not be the property it is unless it carried with it certain dispositional powers. Categoricalists about dispositionalproperties deny this, asserting that the same properties might have had different dispositional powers, had the contingent laws of nature been otherwise.
Those who favour an ontology based on dispositions are thereby able to provide a dispositional essentialist account of the laws of nature. In part 1 of this paper I sketch the dispositional essentialist conception of properties and the concomitant account of laws. In part 2, I characterise various claims about the modal character of properties that fall under the heading ‘quidditism’ and which are consequences of the categoricalist view of properties, which is the alternative to (...) the dispositional essentialist view. I argue that quidditism should be rejected. In part 3, I address a criticism of a strong dispositional essentialist view, viz. that ‘structural’ (i.e. geometrical, numerical, spatial and temporal) properties must be regarded as categorical. (shrink)
The central theme of this paper is the dispositional/categorical distinction that has been one of the top agendas in contemporary metaphysics. I will first develop from my semantic account of dispositions what I think the correct formulation of the dispositional/categorical distinction in terms of counterfactual conditionals. It will be argued that my formulation does not have the shortcomings that have plagued previously proposed ones. Then I will turn my attention to one of its consequences, the thesis that (...) class='Hi'>dispositionalproperties are not susceptible to intrinsic finks. This thesis was first advanced by me and has ever since stirred up a big controversy, endorsed by some philosophers like Handfield, Bird, and Cohen but rejected by others like Clarke and Fara. Against this background, I will remedy my defense of the impossibility of intrinsically finkable dispositions and then refute some of apparently powerful criticisms of it. And so the upshot is that it is much more reasonable to hold on to the thesis that dispositions are intrinsically unfinkable. This will have the effect of putting the dispositional/categorical distinction on firmer and more secure ground. (shrink)
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) causal dispositions (causal powers, capacities, etc.). This account combines the so-called “moral forces” interpretation of prima facie obligations with a dispositional moral metaphysic according to which the metaphysical grounds of moral obligations are not rules or laws, but rather real, irreducibly dispositionalproperties (or powers) of moral agents and patients. My principal aims are to offer a theoretically attractive and suitably metaphysical account of conflicts of obligation, and to show that the dispositional moral metaphysic that grounds the Dispositional Account can explain and accommodate plausible normative views that rule- and law-based alternatives cannot, as well as to answer objections that have been pressed against other accounts of moral conflict (especially Ross’s) that appeal to moral dispositions or forces. (shrink)
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositionalproperties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
Three basic positions regarding the nature of fundamental properties are: dispositional monism, categorical monism and the mixed view. Dispositional monism apparently involves a regress or circularity, while an unpalatable consequence of categorical monism and the mixed view is that they are committed to quidditism. I discuss Alexander Bird's defence of dispositional monism based on the structuralist approach to identity. I argue that his solution does not help standard dispositional essentialism, as it admits the possibility that (...) two distinct dispositionalproperties can possess the same stimuli and manifestations. Moreover, Bird's argument can be used to support the mixed view by relieving it of its commitment to quidditism. I briefly analyse an alternative defence of dispositional essentialism based on Leon Horsten's approach to the problem of circularity and impredicativity. I conclude that the best option is to choose Bird's solution but amend the dispositional perspective on properties. According to my proposal, the essences of dispositions are determined not directly by their stimuli and manifestations but by the role each property plays in the structure formed by the stimulus/manifestation relations. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker offers an account of color perception that attempts to do justice, within a functionalist framework, to the commonsense view that colors are properties of ordinary objects, to the existence of qualia, and to the possibility of spectrum inversions. Shoemaker posits phenomenal properties as dispositionalproperties of colored objects that explain how there can be intersubjective variation in the experience of a particular color. I argue that his account does not in fact allow for the (...) description of a spectrum inversion scenario, and that it cannot sustain a functionalist relationship between an object's color and its phenomenal properties. Functionalists must, however, come to terms with Shoemaker's recognition that intersubjective spectrum shifts are possible. (shrink)
This paper examines the idea that there might be natural kinds of causal processes, with characteristic diachronic structure, in much the same way that various chemical elements form natural kinds, with characteristic synchronic structure. This claim -- if compatible with empirical science -- has the potential to shed light on a metaphysics of essentially dispositionalproperties, championed by writers such as Bird and Ellis.
This paper shows that grounded dispositions are necessarily coextensive with disjunctive properties. It responds to several objections against this thesis, and then shows how to construct a disjunctive property necessarily coextensive with an arbitrary grounded disposition.
Among philosophers of mind, it is common to assume that at least some mental properties are functional in nature, and that functional properties are second-order properties. In the functionalist literature, the notion of being a second-order property is cashed out in three different ways: (i) in terms of semantic features of characterizations or definitions of properties, (ii) in terms of syntactic features of second-order quantification, and (iii) in terms of a metaphysical criterion, according to which (...) class='Hi'>properties are second order if they are properties of first-order properties. It is shown that in the context of functionalism reference to these interpretations is misguided, and it is suggested that the notion of an ordering of properties in this context is best understood as being tied to dependence-relations. (shrink)
It is becoming increasingly clear that the deepest problems currently exercising philosophers of mind arise from an ill-begotten ontology, in particular, a mistaken ontology of properties. After going through some preliminaries, we identify three doctrines at the heart of this mistaken ontology: (P) For each distinct predicate, “F”, there exists one, and only one, property, F, such that, if “F” is applicable to an object a, then “F” is applicable in virtue of a’s being F. (U) Properties are (...) universals, not particulars. (D) Every property is either categorical or dispositional, but not both. We show how these doctrines influence current philosophical thinking about the mind, suggest and defend an alternative conception of properties, and indicate how this conception provides answers to two puzzles besetting contemporary philosophy of mind: the problem of mental causation and the problem of qualia. (shrink)
Since the mid-90s dispositionalism, the view that dispositions are irreducible, real properties, gained strength due to forceful counterexamples (finks and antidotes) that could be launched against Humean anti-dispositionalist attempts to reductively analyse dispositional predicates. -/- In the light of these anti-Humean successes, and in combination with ideas surrounding metaphysical necessity put forward by Kripke and Putnam, some dispositionalists felt encouraged to propose a strong anti-Humean view under the name of “Dispositional Essentialism”. -/- In this paper, I show (...) that, ironically, the counterexamples dispositionalists have used against the Humean reductive analysis of dispositional predicates also prove to be problems for a strong form of dispositional essentialism that assimilates dispositionality and metaphysical necessity. -/- Help comes from an unlike ally—Carnapian reductions sentences—but the alliance is not unproblematic. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists are typically committed to two claims: that properties are individuated by their causal role (‘causal structuralism’), and that natural necessity is to be explained by appeal to these causal roles (‘dispositional actualism’). I argue that these two claims cannot be simultaneously maintained; and that the correct response is to deny dispositional actualism. Causal structuralism remains an attractive position, but doesn’t in fact provide much support for dispositional essentialism.
Those who hold that all fundamental sparse properties have dispositional essences face a problem with structural (e.g. geometrical) properties. In this paper I consider a further route for the dispositional monist that is enabled by the requirement that physical theories should be background-free. If this requirement is respected then we can see how spatial displacement can be a causally active relation and hence may be understood dispositionally.
Averill (1990) argues that not every property is a disposition. I claim here that his reasoning is faulty, suffering at one point from a logical error and at other points from an inadequate account of counterfactuals.
The aim of this paper is to argue that there are categorical properties as well as causal powers, and that the world would not exist as we know it without them. For categorical properties are needed to define the powers—to locate them, and to specify their laws of action. These categorical properties, I shall argue, are not dispositional. For their identities do not depend on what they dispose their bearers to do. They are, as Alexander Bird (...) would say, ’quiddities’. But there is nothing wrong with quiddities. And, in the second half of this paper, I shall defend the thesis that all categorical properties are quiddities. (shrink)
Alexander Bird argues that David Armstrong’s necessitarian conception of physical modality and laws of nature generates a vicious regress with respect to necessitation. We show that precisely the same regress afflicts Bird’s dispositional-monist theory, and indeed, related views, such as that of Mumford and Anjum. We argue that dispositional monism is basically Armstrongian necessitarianism modified to allow for a thesis about property identity.
In this paper I will discuss Richard Holton’s defence of dispositionalism that all properties are essentially dispositional. By way of countering the objection that dispositionalism generates an infinite regress, Holton attempts to advance a consistent model of possible worlds where all truths are dispositional truths. But I will argue that the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, on which Holton’s model is built, is so mistaken that Holton’s model fails to serve his goal. What is more, it is (...) not likely that we can successfully materialize the driving idea of Holton’s model on an appropriately revised version of the conditional analysis of dispositions. Finally, I will discuss the lesson on the methodology of philosophy that we can learn from Holton’s failure. (shrink)
This book advocates dispositional essentialism, the view that natural properties have dispositional essences.1 So, for example, the essence of the property of being negatively charged is to be disposed to attract positively charged objects. From this fact it follows that it is a law that all negatively charged objects will attract positively 10 charged objects; and indeed that this law is metaphysically necessary. Since the identity of the property of being negatively charged is determined by its being (...) related in a certain way to the property of being positively charged, in any world in which these properties exist they must be related so that all negatively charged objects attract positively charged objects. 15 Bird opposes his dispositional essentialism to the view that properties are categorical in nature, with their identities grounded in quiddities that are not exhausted by their relations to other properties. The main exponents of this view are D.M. Armstrong and David Lewis. They take the laws of nature to be contingent though they entertain very different views about their nature: Armstrong is a necessitarian 20 about laws, taking them to be relations of nomic necessitation between universals, while Lewis is a Humean about laws who takes them to be a special kind of regularity. The book is a sustained defence of the dispositional essentialist conception of properties and laws against the competing conceptions espoused by Armstrong and Lewis. One rough way to characterize the difference between these conceptions is to say that 25 the categoricalist sees properties as passive and inert with the laws of nature being fixed independently of the nature of properties whereas, in contrast, the dispositional essentialist sees properties as active potencies from which the laws of nature automatically spring. A slightly more tendentious way to express the difference is to say, as Bird does, that the categoricalist views embrace the Humean doctrine that there are no 30 necessary connexions in nature, while the dispositional essentialist view, on the other hand, repudiates this doctrine.. (shrink)
The development of a compositional model shows the incoherence of such notions as levels of being and both bottom-up and top-down causality. The mathematization of nature through the partial considerations of physics qua quantities is seen to lead to Pythagoreanism, if what is not included in the partial consideration is denied. An ontology of only probabilities, if not Pythagoreanism, is equivalent to a world of primitive dispositionalities. Problems are found with each. There is a need for properties as well (...) as quantities and these properties must be qualitative as well as dispositional. So there is a need for physical qualia (qualities) for the depiction of the intrinsic character of the finest interstices of nature. (shrink)
Consciousness supervenes on activity; computation supervenes on structure. Because of this, some argue, conscious states cannot supervene on computational ones. If true, this would present serious difficulties for computationalist analyses of consciousness (or, indeed, of any domain with properties that supervene on actual activity). I argue that the computationalist can avoid the Superfluous Structure Problem (SSP) by moving to a dispositional theory of implementation. On a dispositional theory, the activity of computation depends entirely on changes in the (...) intrinsic properties of implementing material. As extraneous structure is not required for computation, a system can implement a program running on some but not all possible inputs. Dispositional computationalism thus permits episodes of computational activity that correspond to potential episodes of conscious awareness. The SSP cannot be motivated against this account, and so computationalism may be preserved. (shrink)
Defends the arguments for the irredicibility of dispositions to categorical properties in "Are dispositions reducible to categorical properties?" (Philosophical Quarterly 36, 1986) against the criticisms of D.M. Armstrong (Philosophical Quarterly 38, 1988).
One of the traditional desiderata for a metaphysical theory of laws of nature is that it be able to explain natural regularities. Some philosophers have postulated governing laws to fill this explanatory role. Recently, however, many have attempted to explain natural regularities without appealing to governing laws. Suppose that some fundamental properties are bare dispositions. In virtue of their dispositional nature, these properties must be (or are likely to be) distributed in regular patterns. Thus it would appear (...) that an ontology including bare dispositions can dispense with governing laws of nature. I believe that there is a problem with this line of reasoning. In this essay, I’ll argue that governing laws are indispensable for the explanation of a special sort of natural regularity: those holding among categorical properties (or, as I’ll call them, categorical regularities). This has the potential to be a serious objection to the denial of governing laws, since there may be good reasons to believe that observed regularities are categorical regularities. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Stephen Mumford’s Realist Lawlessness account of powers, as put forward in his 2004 Book, Laws in Nature, motivates a Priority Monist account of substances. In Mumford’s formulation, relations are grounded in the intrinsic dispositionalproperties and powers of things and governing external relations are eliminated. This leads to a preference for Holism, the view that all properties are situated within a relational web, and that no property stands alone outside of the (...) web. Properties are also immanent in their instantiating particulars, and any modal force they bring to the object comprises part of the object itself. Consequently, Mumford refers to his objects as ‘powerful particulars’. This paper argues that the immanence of properties, together with the denial of external relations, leads to an understanding of objects that is shaped by Holism concerning properties. I conclude that Priority Monism is a natural corollary of the Pandispositionalism and subsequent Holism that Mumford advocates. (shrink)
If dispositions are conceived as properties of systems that refer to possible causal relations, dispositions can be used in singular causal explanations. By means of these dispositional explanations, we can explain behavior B of a system x by (i) referring to a situation of type S that triggered B, given that x has a disposition D to do B in S, or (ii) by referring to a disposition D of x to do B in S, given that x (...) is in a situation of type S. Dispositional explanations are adequate and indispensable explanations: they can explain behavior B without explicitly referring to the underlying causal basis in x that constitutes a disposition to do B. Radical Behaviorist explanations are a sort of dispositional explanations, but the dispositional model is not restricted to these explanations. The dispositional model is compatible with, or can be applied to, several research programs. (shrink)
While the phrase "metaphysics of science" has been used from time to time, it has only recently begun to denote a specific research area where metaphysics meets philosophy of science—and the sciences themselves. The essays in this volume demonstrate that metaphysics of science is an innovative field of research in its own right. The principal areas covered are: (1) The modal metaphysics of properties: What is the essential nature of natural properties? Are all properties essentially categorical? Are (...) they all essentially dispositions, or are some categorical and others dispositional? (2) Realism in mathematics and its relation to science: What does a naturalistic commitment of scientific realism tell us about our commitments to mathematical entities? Can this question be framed in something other than a Quinean philosophy? (3) Dispositions and their relation to causation: Can we generate an account of causation that takes dispositionality as fundamental? And if we take dispositions as fundamental (and hence not having a categorical causal basis), what is the ontological ground of dispositions? (4) Pandispositionalism: Could all properties be dispositional in nature? (5) Natural kinds: Are there natural kinds, and if so what account of their nature should we give? For example, do they have essences? Here we consider how these issues may be illuminated by considering examples from reals science, in particular biochemistry and neurobiology. (shrink)
In recent decades, the analysis of causal relations has become a topic of central importance in analytic philosophy. More recently, dispositionalproperties have also become objects of intense study. Both of these phenomena appear to be intimately related to counterfactual conditionals and other modal phenomena such as objective chance, but little work has been done to directly relate them. This collection contains ten essays by scholars working in both metaphysics and in philosophy of science, examining the relation between (...)dispositional and causal concepts. (shrink)
Mumford puts forward a new theory of dispositions, showing how central their role in metaphysics and philosophy of science is. Much of our understanding of the physical and psychological world is expressed in terms of dispositionalproperties--from the spin of a sub-atomic particle to the solubility of sugar. Mumford discusses what it means to say that something has a property of this kind and how dispositions can possibly be real things in the world.
I will argue firstly that law-statements should be understood as attributing dispositionalproperties. Second, the dispositions I am talking about should not be conceived as causes of their manifestations but rather as contributors to the behavior of compound systems. And finally I will defend the claim that dispositionalproperties cannot be reduced in any straightforward sense to non-dispositional (categorical) properties and that they need no categorical bases in the first place.
The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causal argument for physicalism. Standard formulations of it fail to rule out emergent downwards causation. I argue that it must do this if it is tare in a valid causal argument for physicalism. Drawing on the notion of conferring causal power, I formulate a suitable principle, 'strong completeness'. I investigate the metaphysical implications of distinguishing this principle from emergent downwards causation, and I argue that categoricalist accounts of properties are (...) better equipped to sustain the distinction than dispositional essentialist accounts. Finally, I argue that the additional evidence needed for strong completeness renders the causal argument otiose for any properties amenable to scientific reduction. (shrink)
David Lewis advised essentialists to judge his counterpart theory a false friend. He also argued that counterpart theory needs natural properties. This essay argues that natural properties are all essentialists need to find a true friend in counterpart theory. Section one explains why Lewis takes counterpart theory to be anti-essentialist and why he thinks it needs natural properties. Section two establishes the connection between the natural properties counterpart theory needs and the essentialist consequences Lewis disavows. Section (...) three answers two objections: the first attempts to block the consequences of adding natural properties to counterpart theory; the second grants the consequences, but denies that they amount to essentialism. –Correspondence to: Todd_Buras@baylor.edu. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemakerâ€™s â€˜Subset Accountâ€™ offers a new take on determinable properties and the realization relation as well as a defense of non-reductive physicalism from the problem of mental causation. At the heart of this account are the claims that (1) mental properties are determinable properties and (2) the causal powers that individuate a determinable property are a proper subset of the causal powers that individuate the determinates of that property. The second claim, however, has led to the (...) accusation that the effects caused by the instantiation of a determinable property will also be caused by the instantiation of the determinates of that propertyâ€”so instead of solving the problem of mental causation, the Subset Account ends up guaranteeing that the effects of mental properties (and all other types of determinable property) will be causally overdetermined! In this paper, I explore this objection. I argue that both sides in this debate have failed to engage the question at the heart of the objection: Given that both a determinable property and its determinates have the power to cause some effect (E), does it follow that both will actually cause E when the relevant conditions obtain? To make genuine progress towards answering this question, we need to take a serious look at the metaphysics of causation. With the debate properly reframed and issues about the metaphysics of causation front and center, I explore the question of whether the Subset Account is doomed to result in problematic causal overdetermination. (shrink)
What are physical objects like when they are considered independently of their causal interactions? Many think that the answer to this question involves categorical properties– properties that make contributions to their bearers that are independent of any causal interactions those objects may enter into. In this paper, I examine two challenges that this solution poses to Physicalism. The first challenge is that, given that they are distinct from any of the scientifically described causal powers that they happen to (...) convey, categorical properties will not qualify as being ‘physical’ properties. Given the right definition of ‘physical’, this challenge can be overcome. I argue, however, that the only way we can have a positive grasp of the nature of categorical properties is via ‘acquaintance’– a non-physical relation. This second challenge to Physicalism cannot be overcome.1. (shrink)
This paper develops two ideas with respect to dispositionalproperties: (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 antidotes are a major obstacle to a conditional analysis of dispositions, these dispositions that are unfinkable may be successfully analysed by the conditional analysis of dispositions. This result is of importance for those who think that the fundamental properties might be dispositions which lack any distinct causal basis, because it suggests that these properties, if they exist, can be analysed by simple conditionals and that they will not be subject to ceteris paribus laws. (shrink)
This dissertation defends and develops the thesis that some instances, or tokens, of dispositionalproperties are pure. A pure disposition has no causal basis in any further properties beyond the disposition. A causal basis typically consists of some set of properties underlying a disposition that enables the disposition to manifest when stimulated in the appropriate circumstances. For example, a vase is fragile because it is disposed to break when a hammer or other suitable object strikes it, (...) where the causal basis for fragility is the underlying micro-structure of the vase. Moreover, micro-structural properties of the vase seem to anchor the continuous existence of the vase’s fragility when the vase is not actually breaking. In contrast to the neo-Humean metaphysical assumption that any disposition requires a causal basis in further properties, as in the example of fragility, the Pure Dispositions Thesis denies this. This dissertation achieves four goals. First, it defends the Pure Dispositions Thesis from notable objections: the Powers Regress Argument, the Insufficient Causal Basis Argument, the Argument from the Identity Thesis, and the Argument from Spatial Occupation. Second, it evaluates several theories of the continuous existence of pure dispositions, and argues that some pure dispositions are self-grounded via a minimally sufficient occurrence of their own power. Third, it presents two arguments that some pure dispositions are extrinsically grounded, the Argument from the Higgs Field and the Argument from Priority Monism, and deflects numerous objections to those arguments. Finally, it develops and defends an account of systems of pure dispositions, arguing that a pure dispositional system may generate higher-level categorical and dispositionalproperties by way of an emergence mechanism involving the union of two pure dispositions. (shrink)
Presentists face a challenge from truthmaker theory: if you hold both that the only existing objects are presently existing and that truth supervenes on being, then you will be hard pressed to identify some existent on which a given true but traceless claim about the past supervenes. One reconciliation strategy, advocated by Cameron (2011), is to appeal to distributional properties so to serve as presently existing truthmakers for past truths. I argue that a presentist ought to deny that distributional (...)properties can serve as truthmakers. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the compatibility of Alexander Bird's dispositional essentialism with one of our most fundamental physical principles - the principle of least action. Joel Katzav argues that this principle presupposes the contingency of its holding (that is, it presupposes that the system could have followed paths other than that which minimises action), and that this is ruled out by dispositional essentialism. However, Bird argues that only the logical possibility of paths different to the actual path (...) followed is required, and as dispositional essentialism only rules out the metaphysical possibility, Katzav's argument fails. Although we accept Bird's response, on the face of it he is still open to a number of objections; in particular, it looks as though the actual paths being those that minimise the action of the system would be simply a cosmic coincidence, as even if there were a 'principle of least action' disposition, each particular would have to instantiate it contingently. In this paper we discuss what kind of disposition would be required to explain this fundamental principle, and conclude that if one particular instantiates it, it is metaphysically necessary that it be instantiated by all particulars in that world; it turns out that the cosmic coincidence is not so cosmic after all, and so Bird's dispositional essentialism is not threatened. (shrink)
It is widely believed that at least two developments in the last third of the 20th century have given dispositionalism—the view that powers, capacities, potencies, etc. are irreducible real properties—new credibility: (i) the many counterexamples launched against reductive analyses of dispositional predicates in terms of counterfactual conditionals and (ii) a new anti-Humean faith in necessary connections in nature which, it is said, owes a lot to Kripke’s arguments surrounding metaphysical necessity. I aim to show in this paper that (...) necessity is, in fact, of little help for the dispositionalists. My argument makes use of one of the above mentioned counterexamples against Humean reduction: antidotes. Turning the tables, I ask how the dispositionalists themselves can deal with antidotes. The result will be to show that if the dispositionalists are to demystify antidote cases, they must make plausible a conceptualisation of dispositions that does not invoke any kind of necessity. I will cautiously suggest that the anti-Humean link dispositions bring to the world has to be thought of in terms of (Newtonian) forces. (shrink)
My goal in this article is to provide support for the claim that moral flaws can be detrimental to an artwork's aesthetic value. I argue that moral flaws can become aesthetic flaws when they defeat the operation of good-making aesthetic properties. I do not defend a new theory of aesthetic properties or aesthetic value; instead, I attempt to show that on both the response-dependence and the supervenience account of aesthetic properties, moral flaws with an artwork are relevant (...) to what aesthetic properties obtain. I provide a description of the main features of both theories of aesthetic properties, and then explain how moral flaws can become aesthetic flaws on either account. I address several objections to moralism about art including the "moralistic fallacy.". (shrink)
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 dispositionalproperties 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 truths about what is morally permissible, impermissible, etc. Moreover, they can do other things that moral principles are supposed to do: explain the phenomena “falling within their scope,” support counterfactuals, and ground moral necessities , “necessary connections” between obligating reasons and obligations. And they are apt to be the truthmakers for moral laws, or “lawlike” moral generalizations. (shrink)
In discussions on mental causation and externalism, it is often assumed that extrinsic, or relational, properties cannot have causal efficacy. In this paper I argue that this assumption is based on a category mistake, in that causal efficacy (dependence among events or states of affairs) is confused with causal influence (persistence of and interaction among objects). I then argue that relational properties are indeed causally efficacious, which I explain with the help of Dretske's notion of a 'structuring cause'.
The paper argues against the very commonly held view that whenever a substance may be said to be the cause of something, a fuller and metaphysically more accurate understanding of the situation can always be obtained by looking to the properties in virtue of which that substance was able to bring about the effect in question. Paul Humphreys’ argument that when a substance is said to have produced an effect, it always turns out to be an aspect or property (...) of that substance which brought about the effect in question is examined and criticized; it is argued that it is based on an illegitimate application of Mill’s Methods of Difference and Agreement to the case. Mill’s methods, it is suggested, are methods of empirical, not of ontological enquiry. The paper then turns to examine an argument by Mele which appears to depend on a structurally rather similar assumption that if there is nothing about a subject which could explain why she does one thing rather than another, it cannot really be up to that subject which thing occurs. It is suggested that, too, the inference is faulty, and that once it is rejected, one common objection to libertarianism—the argument from luck—might be more readily met. (shrink)
The paper looks at the semantics and ontology of dispositions in the light of recent work on the subject. Objections to the simple conditionals apparently entailed by disposition statements are met by replacing them with so-called 'reduction sentences' and some implications of this are explored. The usual distinction between categorical and dispositionalproperties is criticised and the relation between dispositions and their bases examined. Applying this discussion to two typical cases leads to the conclusion that fragility is not (...) a real property and that, while both temperature and its bases are, this does not generate any problem of overdetermination. (shrink)
This paper argues that the new metaphysics of powers, also known as dispositional essentialism or causal structuralism, is an illusory metaphysics. I argue for this in the following way. I begin by distinguishing three fundamental ways of one might see facts of physical modality—facts about physical necessitation and possibility, causation, disposition, and chance—as being grounded in the world. The first way, call it the 1st degree, is that the actual world, or all worlds, in their entirety, are the source (...) of physical modality. Humeanism is the best known such approach, but there are other less well-known approaches. The second way, the 2nd degree, is that the source of physical modality lies in certain 2nd-order facts, involving a relation between universals. Armstrong’s necessitarianism and other views are 2nd-degree. The third way, the 3rd degree, holds that properties themselves are the source of physical modality. This is the powers view. I examine four ways of developing the 3rd degree: relational constitution, graph-theoretic structuralism, dispositional roles, and powerful qualities. All these ways are either incoherent, or just disguised versions of the 1st-degree. The new metaphysics of powers is illusory. With the collapse of the 3rd degree, the 2nd degree, the necessitarian view of law, collapses as well. I end the paper with some reflections on the 1st degree, on the problem of explaining necessary connections between distinct existences, and on the dim prospects of holist ontology. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to defend the causal homogeneity of functional, mental properties against Kim’s attack. It is argued that (a) token identity is sufficient for mental causation, that (b) token identity implies a sort of functional reduction, but that (c) nonetheless functional, mental properties can be causally homogeneous despite being multiply realizable: multiple composition is sufficient for multiple realizability, but multiple composition does not prevent the realizers from having their pertinent effects in common. Thus, the (...) causal exclusion problem provides no argument for abandoning the position that there are functional, mental properties that are natural kind properties. (shrink)
– Dispositional Realism is the view according to which some denizens of reality – i.e., dispositions – are properties, that may exist in the natural world and have an irreducible modal character. Among Dispositional Realists, Charlie Martin, Ullin Place and George Molnar most notably argued that the modal character of dispositions should be understood in terms of their intentionality. Other Dispositional Realists, most notably Stephen Mumford, challenged this understanding of the modal character of dispositions. In (...) this paper, I defend a fresh version of the intentional understanding of dispositions. I start by distinguishing two questions about properties, respectively addressing their identity conditions and their individuation conditions. I, then, define categorical and dispositionalproperties in terms of their qualitative character, and examine their identity and individuation conditions. I conclude that the attribution of intentions is a conceptual tool: it was introduced in order to help specifying the conditions of individuation of a disposition; however, such attribution does not affect the identity of a disposition. (shrink)
Inspired by recent theories of embodied cognition that emphasize matters of a mind's engineering realization, I introduce "nomic-role nonreductionism" as an alternative to traditional causal-role functionalism in the philosophy of mind. Rather than identify mental properties by a theory that describes their intra-level causal roles via types of inputs, internal states, and outputs, I suggest that one identify mental properties by a more comprehensive theory that also describes inter-level realization roles via types of lower-level engineering, internal mental states, (...) and still higher-level states generated by them. I defend this position on grounds that mental properties should be understood by our best scientific theories, which at present include informatioin about mental engineering. I further defend this claim by a "parity of reasons" argument. Causal-role functionalists are justified to include sensory stimuli in their theory of mind as opposed to, say, the remote causes of sensory stimuli because the former but not the latter are items of direct mental production. But ditto for the system's physical realizations. They too directly produce mental states, only not by "causing" them but by "realizing" them. Engineering realizations and their input triggering conditions work in tandem. In addition, I tell a related but more general metaphysical story about property identity, namely, that the traditional causal theory should be replaced by a more comprehensive nomic theory that individuates properties by their intra-level causal powers as well as their inter-level realization capacities. (shrink)
It’s a platitude that a picture is realistic to the degree to which it resembles what it represents (in relevant respects). But if properties are abundant and degrees of resemblance are proportions of properties in common, then the degree of resemblance between different particulars is constant (or undefined), which is inconsonant with the platitude. This paper argues this problem should be resolved by revising the analysis of degrees of resemblance in terms of proportion of properties in common, (...) and not by accepting a sparse theory of properties or by denying that degree of realism is degree of resemblance (in relevant respects). (shrink)
According to genuine modal realism, some things (including numbers and properties) lack distinct counterparts in different worlds. So how can they possess any of their properties contingently? Egan (2004) argues that to explain such accidental property possession, the genuine modal realist must depart from Lewis and identify properties with functions, rather than with sets of possibilia. We disagree. The genuine modal realist already has the resources to handle Egan's proposed counterexamples. As we show, she does not need (...) to amend her analysis of possibility statements, or her theory of what properties are. (shrink)
General metaphysical arguments have been proposed in favour of the thesis that all dispositions have categorical bases (Armstrong; Prior, Pargetter, Jackson). These arguments have been countered by equally general arguments in support of ungrounded dispositions (Molnar, Mumford). I believe that this controversy cannot be settled purely on the level of abstract metaphysical considerations. Instead, I propose to look for ungrounded dispositions in specific physical theories, such as quantum mechanics. I explain why non-classical properties such as spin are best interpreted (...) as irreducible dispositionalproperties, and I give reasons why even seemingly classical properties, for instance position or momentum, should receive a similar treatment when interpreted in the quantum realm. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I argue that quantum dispositions should not be limited to probabilistic dispositions (propensities) by showing reasons why even possession of well-defined values of parameters should qualify as a dispositional property. I finally discuss the issue of the actuality of quantum dispositions, arguing that it may be justified to treat them as potentialities whose being has a lesser degree of reality than that of classical categorical properties, due to the incompatibility relations between non-commuting observables. (shrink)
The interpretation of Lewis?s doctrine of natural properties is difficult and controversial, especially when it comes to the bearers of natural properties. According to the prevailing reading ? the minimalist view ? perfectly natural properties pertain to the micro-physical realm and are instantiated by entities without proper parts or point-like. This paper argues that there are reasons internal to a broadly Lewisian kind of metaphysics to think that the minimalist view is fundamentally flawed and that a liberal (...) view, according to which natural properties are instantiated at several or even at all levels of reality, should be preferred. Our argument proceeds by reviewing those core principles of Lewis?s metaphysics that are most likely to constrain the size of the bearers of natural properties: the principle of Humean supervenience, the principle of recombination in modal realism, the hypothesis of gunk, and the thesis of composition as identity. (shrink)
This essay defends a theory of dispositions, on which dispositionalproperties are analyzable in terms of agents’ abilities. On this view, claims about dispositions are a projection of agent-centric facts about manipulability onto a world whose nature, considered in itself, is exhausted by the categorical.
The problem this paper deals with is the problem of how dispositionalproperties can have causal relevance. In particular, the paper is focused on the question of how dispositions can have causal relevance given that the categorial bases that realise them seem to be sufficient to bring about the effects that dispositions explain. I show first that this problem of exclusion has no general solution. Then, I discuss some particular cases in which dispositions are causally relevant, despite of (...) this exclusion problem. My claim is that dispositions have causal relevance in selection or recruitment processes, when they are converted into teleological functions. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialism entails necessitarianism about the laws. If the laws are deterministic, that seems to make many counterfactuals vacuous. This paper proposes a way of reconciling the possibility of miracles with necessary, deterministic laws, thus permitting standard Lewis semantics for counterfactuals.