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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
The paper deals with the question of the structure of knowledge and the precise relationship between propositional "knowledge that" and dispositional "knowledge how." In the first part of my essay, I provide an analysis of the term 'knowing how' and argue that the usual alternatives in the recent epistemological debate – knowing how is either a form of propositional or dispositional knowledge – are misleading. In fact it depends on the semantic and pragmatic context of the usage of (...) this term whether 'knowing how' refers to a type of dispositional knowledge, to propositional knowledge, or to a hybrid form of both. Only in the first case, can one say that dispositional know how cannot be reduced to any form of propositional knowledge. Yet, this case is the most interesting one to consider in the investigation of the nature of knowledge, if one assumes that knowing that p presupposes "having found out that p." Having found something out, however, presupposes certain acts of epistemic inquiry and corresponding epistemic abilities. Examined more carefully, it is shown that the dispositional knowledge-how is a necessary condition for propositional knowledge-that, hence propositional knowledge-that is a species of the dispositional knowledge-how. Accordingly, dispositional knowledge has to be understood as being at the very core of our notion of knowledge, including propositional knowledge. (shrink)
There has been much discussion of powers or real dispositions in the past decade, but there remains an issue that has been inadequately treated. This concerns the precise modal value that comes with dispositionality. We contend in this paper that dispositionality involves a non-alethic, sui generis, irreducible modality. Dispositions only tend towards their manifestations; they do not necessitate them. Tendency is, of course, a dispositional term itself, so this last statement offers little by way of illumination. But given our (...) thesis on the irreducible nature of dispositionality, we maintain that it cannot be explicated correctly in non-dispositional terms. Nevertheless, we all have experience of dispositionality at work, through the exercise or our own powers and the action of other powers upon us. The notion of dispositionality that we acquire is one that involves a modality stronger than pure contingency but weaker than necessity. The recognition of this distinct modal value for dispositionality is one of the biggest oversights in the growing literature in the area. Yet it is there for all to see in even the most mundane example. (shrink)
This paper describes and defends in detail a novel account of belief, an account inspired by Ryle's dispositional characterization of belief, but emphasizing irreducibly phenomenal and cognitive dispositions as well as behavioral dispositions. Potential externalist and functionalist objections are considered, as well as concerns motivated by the inevitably ceteris paribus nature of the relevant dispositional attributions. It is argued that a dispositional account of belief is particularly well-suited to handle what might be called "in-between" cases of believing (...) - cases in which it is neither quite right to describe a person as having a particular belief nor quite right to describe her as lacking it. (shrink)
We argue that the inference from dispositional essentialism about a property (in the broadest sense) to the metaphysical necessity of laws involving it is invalid. Let strict dispositional essentialism be any view according to which any given property’s dispositional character is precisely the same across all possible worlds. Clearly, any version of strict dispositional essentialism rules out worlds with different laws involving that property. Permissive dispositional essentialism is committed to a property’s identity being tied to (...) its dispositional profile or causal role, yet is compatible with moderate interworld variation in a property’s dispositional profile. We provide such a model of dispositional essentialism about a property and metaphysical contingency of the laws involving it. (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)
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.
It is widely thought that dispositional accounts of content cannot adequately provide for two of its essential features: normativity and non-inferentially-based self-knowledge. This paper argues that these criticisms depend upon having wrongly bracketed the presumption of first-person authority. With that presumption in place, dispositional conceptions can account for normativity: conditions of correctness must then be presumed, ceteris paribus, to be successfully grasped in particular cases, and thus to result from semantic-constituting dispositions; error occurs when cetera are not paria. (...) An account of these ceteris paribus conditions is offered. An expressivist epistemology is then developed that accounts for the non-inferential self-ascription of semantic-constituting dispositions. It is argued that simply being the subject of such dispositions accounts for one's authoritative and direct semantic knowledge. Semantic knowledge consists in knowing how to apply an expression or thought, and such know-how is expressed in semantic self-ascriptions. (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.
Knowledge is widely thought to entail belief. But Radford has claimed to offer a counterexample: the case of the unconfident examinee. And Myers-Schulz and Schwitzgebel have claimed empirical vindication of Radford. We argue, in defense of orthodoxy, that the unconfident examinee does indeed have belief, in the epistemically relevant sense of dispositional belief. We buttress this with empirical results showing that when the dispositional conception of belief is specifically elicited, people’s intuitions then conform with the view that knowledge (...) entails (dispositional) belief. (shrink)
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)
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-dispositional properties, 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)
For the last several decades, dispositional properties have been one of the main topics in metaphysics. Still, however, there is little agreement among contemporary metaphysicians on the nature of dispositional properties. 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)
– 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 dispositional properties 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 dispositional properties 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)
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)
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'>dispositional properties 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)
It is intuitively plausible that not every evildoer is an evil person. In order to make sense of this intuition we need to construct an account of evil personhood in addition to an account of evil action. Some philosophers have offered aggregative accounts of evil personhood, but these do not fit well with common intuitions about the explanatory power of evil personhood, the possibility of moral reform, and the relationship between evil and luck. In contrast, a dispositional account of (...) evil personhood can allow that evil is explanatory, that an evil person can become good, and that luck might prevent evil persons from doing evil or cause non-evil persons to do evil. Yet the dispositional account of evil personhood implies that some evil persons are blameless, which seems to clash with the intuition that evil persons deserve our strongest moral condemnation. Moreover, since it is likely that a large proportion of us are disposed to perform evil actions in some environments, the dispositional account threatens to label a large proportion of people evil. In this paper I consider a range of possible modifications to the dispositional account that might bring it more closely into alignment with our intuitions about moral condemnation and the rarity of evil persons. According to the most plausible of these theories, S is an evil person if S is strongly disposed to perform evil actions when in conditions that favour S’s autonomy. (shrink)
In some ways, someone suffering from the delusion that his or her spouse has been kidnapped and replaced with an imposter appears to believe that he or she eats dinner with an imposter every night. But the imperviousness of delusions to counter-evidence makes it hard to classify them as beliefs, and easier to classify them as imaginings. Bayne and Pacherie want to use Schwitzgebel’s dispositional account of belief to restore confidence in the doxastic character of delusion. While dispositionalism appears (...) to allow us to classify delusions as beliefs, this allowance isn’t a robust vindication of doxasticism. The significance of the allowance can be increased by emphasizing the role of folk-psychological norms in individuating propositional attitudes. But letting those norms play a large role in the individuation of belief makes it hard to count as believers the deluded subjects who violate most such norms. Dispositionalism about belief can’t defend doxasticism about delusion. (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 dispositional properties (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)
Dispositional theories of the colours of objects identify an object’s having a certain colour with its being such that it would produce perceptions of certain kinds in perceivers of certain kinds under certain specified conditions. Without doubting that objects have dispositions to produce perceptions of certain kinds, this paper questions whether the relevant kinds of perceptions, perceivers, and conditions can be specified in a way that (i) does not rely on acceptance of any objects as being coloured in a (...) non-dispositional sense and (ii) secures the necessity of the identity between an object’s having the disposition so specified and its having the colour in question. Accepting any theory that looked as if it succeeded on both these counts would require an explanation of why a parallel identity does not hold for an object’s disposition to produce, e.g., perceptions of shape. (shrink)
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 dispositional properties 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)
Dispositional compatibilists argue that a proper understanding of our abilities vindicates both compatibilism and the principle of Alternate Possibilities (the claim that the ability to do otherwise is required for freedom and moral responsibility). In this paper, I argue that this is mistaken. Both analyses of dispositions and abilities should distinguish between local and global dispositions or abilities. Once this distinction is in place, we see that neither thesis is established by an analysis of abilities.
Philosophical theories about the nature of belief can be roughly classified into two groups: those that treat beliefs as occurrent mental states or episodes and those that treat beliefs as dispositions. David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature seems to contain a classic example of an occurrence theory of belief. Hume defines 'belief' as 'a lively idea related to or associated with a present impression' (Treatise 126.96.36.199 96).1 This definition suggests that believing is an occurrent mental state, such as judging, (...) or thinking about something in a particular manner. However, at the same time, a number of Hume's readers claim to find elements in his writings that are suggestive of a dispositional account of belief.2 .. (shrink)
According to a persistent objection against metaethical expressivism, this view is committed to a strong version of internalism which is unable to account for cases where a person’s moral judgment and motivation come apart. Recently, leading expressivists have argued that they can meet this objection by maintaining that moral judgments consist in non-cognitive states that motivate in normal conditions. In this paper, it is maintained that an important dimension of internalism has, on the whole, gone unnoticed: Internalist claims vary depending (...) on whether moral judgments and motivation are understood as dispositional states or occurrent states. This variation can be invoked in an argument showing that expressivists are indeed committed to versions of internalism that make it impossible to account for cases in which moral judgment and motivation diverge. (shrink)
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 (...) argue that an account of love as disposition, suitably construed, is superior to the historicist account in that it has the advantages the historicist account has without its problems. In addition, the dispositional account has advantages of its own. (shrink)
My aim is to question an assumption that is often made in the philosophical literature on dispositions. This is the assumption that, generally, the stimulation (or ‘triggering’) of a disposition temporally precedes the manifesting of that disposition. I will begin by examining precisely what the trigging of a disposition may be thought to consist in, and will identify two plausible views. I will then argue that on either of these views about triggering, a case can be made against the view (...) that the triggering of a disposition always occurs before the manifesting of that disposition. More precisely, if the first view about triggering is accepted, and certain plausible assumptions about dispositions are put into place, a metaphysical argument can be formulated for the claim that the stimulation of a disposition never occurs before that disposition manifests. If the second view about triggering is accepted, the question concerning simultaneity becomes an empirical one. There are, however, examples of dispositional interaction which, on the second view about triggering, clearly seem to involve simultaneity.1. (shrink)
Rachael Briggs and Daniel Nolan attempt to improve on Nozick’s tracking theory of knowledge by providing a modified, dispositional tracking theory. The dispositional theory, however, faces more problems than those previously noted by John Turri. First, it is not simply that satisfaction of the theory’s conditions is unnecessary for knowledge – it is insufficient as well. Second, in one important respect, the dispositional theory is a step backwards relative to the original tracking theory: the original but not (...) the dispositional theory can avoid Gettier-style counterexamples. Future attempts to improve the tracking theory would be wise to bear these problems in mind. (shrink)
The Concept of Mind is the best known and the most important work of Gilbert Ryle. Ryle is thought to have accomplished two major tasks. First, he was seen to have put the final nail in the coffin of Carteisan dualism. Ryle rejects Descartes’ dualistic theory of the relation between mind and body. This doctrine of separation between mind and body is referred by Ryle as “the dogma of the ghost in the machine.” Second, he himself anticipated and suggested dualism’s (...) replacement, the doctrine known as philosophical (sometimes analytical) behaviourism. This is an attempt of this paper is to draw outlines of his criticism of Dualism his dispositional theory of mind and how it is relevant in today’s philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Elizabeth Prior claims that dispositional predicates are incomplete in the sense that they have more than one argument place. To back up this claim, she offers a number of arguments that involve such ordinary dispositional predicates as ‘fragile’, ‘soluble’, and so on. In this paper, I will first demonstrate that one of Prior’s arguments that ‘is fragile’ is an incomplete predicate is mistaken. This, however, does not immediately mean that Prior is wrong that ‘fragile’ is an incomplete predicate. (...) On the contrary, I maintain that she has offered another valid argument that does indeed establish the claim that ‘fragile’ is an incomplete predicate. I will argue further that Prior is right that ‘soluble’ is an incomplete predicate. Then does this mean that all dispositional predicates are incomplete? I don’t think so. I will suggest that there are complete dispositional predicates that have no more than one argument place. Finally, by relying on my discussion of the incompleteness of dispositional predicates, I will attempt to provide a better understanding of the context-dependence and intrinsic nature of dispositional ascriptions. (shrink)
Functions and altered states in dispositional analysis: a reply to Vihvelin Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9890-y Authors Charles Hermes, University of Texas, Arlington, TX, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
The basic principles of dispositional essentialism do not require that the fundamental spatiotemporal relations are dispositional in nature. Nevertheless, Bird (who defends dispositional monism) argues that they possess dispositional essences in virtue of the fact that the obtaining of these relations can be characterised by the satisfaction of a certain counterfactual. In this paper I argue that his suggestion fails, and so, despite his attempt, the case of the spatiotemporal relations remains the ‘big bad bug’ for (...) the thesis of dispositional monism. (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)
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 dispositional properties, and a consequent distinction between "not soluble" and "insoluble," lies at the core of the solution.
I put forward several desiderata that a philosophical theory of causality should satisfy: it should account for the objectivity of causality, it should underpin formalisms for causal reasoning, it should admit a viable epistemology, it should be able to cope with the great variety of causal claims that are made, and it should be ontologically parsimonious. I argue that Nancy Cartwright’s dispositional account of causality goes part way towards meeting these criteria but is lacking in important respects. I go (...) on to argue that my epistemic account, which ties causal relationships to an agent’s knowledge and ignorance, performs well in the light of the desiderata. Such an account, I claim, is all we require from a theory of causality. (shrink)
This essay presents a model-theoretic account of dispositional properties, according to which dispositions are not ordinary properties of real entities; dispositions capture the behavior of abstract, idealized models. This account has several payoffs. First, it saves the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. Second, it preserves the general connection between dispositions and regularities, despite the fact that some dispositions are not grounded in actual regularities. Finally, it brings together the analysis and the explanation of dispositions under a unified framework.
Through the utilization of a descriptive illustration and detailed referencing of Carruthers (2000), a comparison of Hierarchical Systems theory (Pharoah, 2007) with Dispositional Higher-Order Thought theory identifies and reinforces their complementary status. However, this also determines some key distinctions, particularly with regard to the conclusions each make regarding the mentality of animals and the autistic, and regarding the moral consequences of these conclusions.
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 study, we assessed the influence of trait anger on decisions in risky situations evaluating how it might interact with some contextual factors. One hundred and fifty-eight participants completed the Trait Anger scale of STAXI-2 (T-Ang) and an inventory consisting of a battery of hypothetical everyday decision-making scenarios, representative of three specific domains: financial, social and health. Participants were also asked to evaluate familiarity and salience for each scenario. This study provides evidence for a relationship between individual differences in (...) the tendency to feel anger and risky decisions in different domains and for mediation effects of familiarity and salience perception. The evaluation of the mechanisms with which dispositional anger is linked to risky decision-making could further contribute to an understanding of the role of personality traits in decision-making processes. (shrink)
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)
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)
The popular press and academic research has focused primarily on the characteristics of corporate leaders. Subordinates have been studied much less frequently than leaders and yet they play a pivotal role in destructive leadership processes. An area holding significant potential to bring clarity to subordinates’ ability to withstand (or succumb) to pressures from superiors is dispositional affect. In our exploratory study, we examine how specific affective states influence subordinates’ unethical behavior. We performed an experiment with 63 mid-level managers having (...) significant work experience. Participants were given ethical scenarios and asked to assess their intentions to comply with their superiors’ requests to engage in unethical conduct. The participants also completed the positive affect negative affect schedule (PANAS) which provides measures of affective states. Our results provide support for theory-based predictions. The findings of our study make important contributions and have implications to both practice and theory. First, we identify certain affective states that encourage subordinates to adopt the behavior of a conformer or colluder and thus be susceptible to their superiors’ unethical directives. Second, our results suggest the need for training programs to assist employees in managing affect in the work place and consideration of organizational changes that provide a culture of empowerment of its employees. Third, unlike a large majority of prior research, we measured naturally occurring affective states rather than providing a contrived (and potentially exaggerated) triggering event to elicit affective states. Fourth, we examined specific affective states rather than examining only general positive and negative valence categories. (shrink)
Socio-economic decisions are commonly explained by rational cost versus benefit considerations, whereas person variables have not much been considered. The present study aimed at investigating the degree to which dispositional power motivation and affective states predict socio-economic decisions. The power motive was assessed both indirectly and directly using a TAT-like picture test and a power motive self-report, respectively. After 9 months, 62 students completed an affect rating and performed on a money allocation task (social values questionnaire). We hypothesized and (...) confirmed that dispositional power should be associated with a tendency to maximize oneâs profit but to care less about another partyâs profit. Additionally, positive affect showed effects in the same direction. The results are discussed with respect to a motivational approach explaining socio-economic behaviour. (shrink)
Manley and Wasserman criticize the conditional analysis of dispositions, arguing that whilst it invites the ‘strategy of getting specific’, this strategy creates more problems than it solves. I show that their understanding both of the phenomenon of masking and also of the strategy of getting specific is deeply defective, which wreaks havoc with their principal critique of the conditional analysis of dispositions.
This article critically examines Kadri Vihvelin's proposal that to have free will is to have the ability to make choices on the basis of reasons, and to have this ability is to have a bundle of dispositions that can be exercised in more than one way. It is argued that partisans of Frankfurt examples can still make a powerful case for the view that being able to do otherwise, even on Vihvelin's compatibilist explication of ‘could have done otherwise,’ is not (...) required for moral responsibility. (shrink)
1.1 Many have noted that there is a very close tie between disposition ascriptions such as: (1.1a) This glass is disposed to break when struck, or more generally (1.1b) x is disposed to M when C And counterfactuals such as: (1.1c) If this glass were struck it would break, or more generally..
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)
This paper will investigate the basic question of the nature of perception, as theoretically approached from a purely naturalistic standpoint. An adequate theory must not only have clear application to a world full of pre-existing biological examples of perception of all kinds, from unicellular perception to conscious human perception, but it must also satisfy a series of theoretical or philosophical constraints, as enumerated and discussed in Section 1 below. A perceptual theory invoking _reflexive dispositions_--that is, dispositions directed toward the very (...) same worldly perceived objects or properties that caused them--will be defended as one legitimate such naturalistic theory. (shrink)
David Gauthier thinks agents facing a prisoner's dilemma ('pd') should find it rational to dispose themselves to co-operate with those inclined to reciprocate (i.e., to acquire a constrained maximizer--'cm'--disposition), and to co-operate with other 'cmers'. Richmond Campbell argues that since dominance reasoning shows it remains to the agent's advantage to defect, his co-operation is only rational if cm "determines" him to co-operate, forcing him not to cheat. I argue that if cm "forces" the agent to co-operate, he is not acting (...) at all, never mind rationally. Thus, neither author has shown that co-operation is rational action in a pd. (shrink)
The field of machine perception is based on standard informational and computational approaches to perception. But naturalistic informational theories are widely regarded as being inadequate, while purely syntactic computational approaches give no account of perceptual content. Thus there is a significant need for a novel, purely naturalistic perceptual theory not based on informational or computational concepts, which could provide a new paradigm for mechanistic perception. Now specifically evolutionary naturalistic approaches to perception have been—perhaps surprisingly—almost completely neglected for this purpose. Arguably (...) perceptual mechanisms enhance evolutionary fitness by facilitating sensorily mediated causal interactions between an organism Z and items X in its environment. A ‘reflexive’ theory of perception of this kind is outlined, according to which an organism Z perceives an item X just in case X causes a sensory organ zi of Z to cause Z to acquire a disposition toward the very same item X that caused the perception. The rest of the paper shows how an intuitively plausible account of mechanistic perception can be developed and defended in terms of the reflexive theory. Also, a compatibilist option is provided for those who wish to preserve a distinct informational concept of perception. (shrink)
Introduction -- Global traits of character -- Traits as dispositions -- Situational traits of character -- Situational traits and social psychology -- Situational traits and the friendly consequentialist.
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 is widely thought that dispositional properties depend upon categorical properties; specifying the nature of this dependency, however, has proven a difficult task. The dependency of dispositional properties upon categorical properties also presents a challenge to the thesis of Physicalism: If the physical sciences only tell us about the dispositional properties of the objects they study and if dispositional properties 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 dispositional properties 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)
People often sincerely assert or judge one thing (for example, that all the races are intellectually equal) while at the same time being disposed to act in a way evidently quite contrary to the espoused attitude (for example, in a way that seems to suggest an implicit assumption of the intellectual superiority of their own race). Such cases should be regarded as ‘in-between’ cases of believing, in which it's neither quite right to ascribe the belief in question nor quite right (...) to say that the person lacks the belief. (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)
It has been widely assumed that we do not perceive dispositional properties. 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 dispositional properties. The two most important and influential arguments to the contrary fail.
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)
This Thesis engages with contemporary philosophical controversies about the nature of dispositional properties 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)
1. Consider a circle. It has both a radius and a circumference. There is obviously a real distinction between the properties having a radius and having a circumference. This is not because, when confining ourselves to circles,1 having a radius can ever exist apart from having a circumference. A real distinction does not depend on that. Descartes thought that a real distinction between x and y meant that x could exist without y or vice versa, if only by the power (...) of God. But Descartes was wrong. Separable existence is a sufficient but not necessary condition of there being a real distinction. The difference between a real and a conceptual distinction derives from medieval philosophy. Aquinas, for one, held that things can be really distinct even though not separable (the form and matter of a material substance or its essence and existence, for example).2 For a merely conceptual distinction between x and y to exist, it is necessary for the distinction to exist in thought only. There is only a conceptual distinction between an upward slope and a downward slope, or between a glass’s being half empty and half full. Not only are the members of such pairs inseparable (whether by God or in any other way), but there is no real distinction between them. There is no numerical distinctness between the entities or qualities between which there is only a conceptual distinction. To this extent alone is Galen Strawson (2008) correct.3 But when it comes to.. (shrink)
Zusammenfassung Chomsky behauptet, daÃ das BewuÃtsein die Struktur eines grammatischen Ãbersetzungsapparates hat, Freud dagegen betrachtet es als einen unbewuÃten Geisteszustand. Es wird gezeigt, wie sich diese Theorien innerhalb einer Metaphysik des BewuÃtseins vereinbaren lassen, die nur bewuÃte GeisteszustÃ¤nde als grundlegend, Sinneswahrnehmungen, Bilder, Emotionen und dergleichen als sekundÃ¤r, und veranlagungsbedingte (natÃ¼rliche) GeisteszustÃ¤nde als tertiÃ¤r bezeichnet. Hervorzuheben wÃ¤re, daÃ grammatische Ãbersetzungsapparate und unbewuÃte GeisteszustÃ¤nde, wie alle menschlichen Veranlagungen, als Eigenheiten des KÃ¶rpers, welcher gewissen Gesetzen und Prinzipien unterliegt, zu analysieren sind.
If an agent judges that she morally ought to PHI in certain circumstances C then, according to internalists, absent practical irrationality, she must be motivated, to some extent, to PHI in C. Internalists thus accept what I have elsewhere called the ‘practicality requirement on moral judgement’. There are many different theories about the nature and content of moral judgement that aspire to explain and capture the truth embodied in internalism, and these theories share little in common beyond that aspiration. Worse (...) still, as I will argue in what follows, these theories are perhaps best thought of as lying around the perimeter of a wheel, much like Fortune’s Wheel, with each theory that lies further on along the perimeter representing itself as motivated by difficulties that beset the theory that precedes it. The mere existence of Internalism’s Wheel need not pose a problem for internalists, of course. They may believe that the truth about ethics lies wherever Internalism’s Wheel stops spinning. But a problem evidently does arise if Internalism’s Wheel is in perpetual motion, for then the truth about ethics presumably lies nowhere at all on Internalism’s Wheel. Somewhat tentatively, then, my conclusion is that the nonreductive, non-relative version of the dispositional theory of value provides a stable stopping point for Internalism's Wheel. (shrink)
Higher-order theories of consciousness, such as those of Armstrong, Rosenthal and Lycan, typically distinguish sharply between consciousness and phenomenal character, or qualia. The higher-order states posited by these theories are intended only as explanations of consciousness, and not of qualia. In this paper I argue that the positing of higher-order perceptions may help to explain qualia. If we are realists about qualia, conceived as those intrinsic properties of our experience of which we are introspectibly aware, then higher-order perception might have (...) an explanatory role as the means by which we are aware of these properties. This would also allow us to treat qualia as the inner appearances resulting from inner perceptions, and therefore to treat them as intentional objects. (shrink)
Noam Chomsky and Frances Egan argue that David Marr’s computational theory of vision is not intentional, claiming that the formal scientific theory does not include description of visual content. They also argue that the theory is internalist in the sense of not describing things physically external to the perceiver. They argue that these claims hold for computational theories of vision in general. Beyond theories of vision, they argue that representational content does not figure as a topic within formal computational theories (...) in cognitive science. I demonstrate that Chomsky’s and Egan’s claims about Marr’s theory are false. Marr’s computational theory contains a mathematical theory of visual content, based on empirical psychophysical evidence. It also contains mathematical descriptions of distal physical surfaces and objects, and of their optic projection to the perceiver. Much computational research on vision contains these types of intentional and externalist components within the formal, mathematical, theories. Chomsky’s and Egan’s claims demonstrate inadequate study and understanding of Marr’s work and other research in this area. Computational theories of vision, by containing empirically based mathematical theories of visual content, to this extent present naturalizations of semantics. (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)
In this paper, I respond to Pierre Le Morvan’s critique of my thesis that ignorance is lack of true belief rather than absence of knowledge. I argue that the distinction between dispositional and non-dispositional accounts of belief, as I made it in a previous paper, is correct as it stands. Also, I criticize the viability and the importance of Le Morvan’s distinction between propositional and factive ignorance. Finally, I provide two arguments in favor of the thesis that ignorance (...) is lack of true belief rather than absence of knowledge. (shrink)