This paper has two main aims. The first is to present a general approach for understanding “dispositional” and “categorical” properties; the second aim is to use this approach to criticize Russellian Monism. On the approach I suggest, what are usually thought of as “dispositional” and “categorical” properties are really just the extreme ends of a spectrum of options. The approach allows for a number of options between these extremes, and it is plausible, I suggest, that just (...) about everything of scientific interest falls in this middle ground. I argue that Russellian Monism depends for its plausibility on the unarticulated assumption that there are no properties in the middle ground. (shrink)
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)
_ Source: _Page Count 20 Tugby and Yates have recently argued that immanent realism is incompatible with the existence of intrinsic but relationally constituted genuine dispositionalproperties. The success of Tugby’s and Yates’ arguments depends either on a strong or on a weak assumption about the interworld identity of dispositionalproperties. In this paper, the author evaluates the strength of the arguments in question under those two assumptions. He also offers an alternative metaphysical picture for the (...) fundamental dispositionalproperties which rejects these assumptions and, consequently, undermines the arguments themselves. (shrink)
In identifying intrinsic molecular chance and extrinsic adaptive pressures as the only causally relevant factors in the process of evolution, the theoretical perspective of the Modern Synthesis had a major impact on the perceived tenability of an ontology of dispositionalproperties. However, since the late 1970s, an increasing number of evolutionary biologists have challenged the descriptive and explanatory adequacy of this “chance alone, extrinsic only” understanding of evolutionary change. Because morphological studies of homology, convergence, and teratology have revealed (...) a space of possible forms and phylogenetic trajectories that is considerably more restricted than expected, evo-devo has focused on the causal contribution of intrinsic developmental processes to the course of evolution. Evo-devo’s investigation into the developmental structure of the modality of morphology – including both the possibility and impossibility of organismal form – has led to the utilisation of a number of dispositional concepts that emphasise the tendency of the evolutionary process to change along certain routes. In this sense, and in contrast to the perspective of the Modern Synthesis, evo-devo can be described as a “science of dispositions.” This chapter discusses the recent philosophical literature on dispositionalproperties in evo-devo, exploring debates about both the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of the central dispositional concepts utilised in contemporary evo-devo and addressing the epistemological question of how dispositionalproperties challenge existing explanatory models in evolutionary biology. (shrink)
This essay presents a model-theoretic account of dispositionalproperties, 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. (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.
Metaphysicians who hold that there is an ontological distinction between two kinds of fundamental natural properties assume that properties are dispositional or non-dispositional necessarily. In contrast to this, I suggest that one can admit the existence of fundamental contingently dispositionalproperties. After some clarifications concerning the content of the suggested view, I respond to several objections regarding its intelligibility and viability and outline two of its important consequences.
In_ Dispositional Properties_, David Weissman attacks a problem central to the philosophy of mind and, by implication, to the theory of being: Are there potentialities, capabilities, which dispose the mind to think in one way rather than another? The volume is arranged in the form of four arguments that converge upon a single point. First, there is an intricate discussion of the shortcomings of Hume's account of mind as ideas and impressions. Next comes a brief treatment of the arguments (...) of some of Weissman's contemporaries, including Carnap and Braithwaite. Third, Weissman discusses Wittgenstein's theories of learning and knowledge. Finally, there is a full discussion of Aristotle and his doctrine of potentialities. The question this book ultimately raises is how to steer between a doctrine of mind as no more than a series of acts, on the one hand, and a doctrine of mind as a kind of unitary object, on the other. The solution is to show first of all that there must be a potentiality in the universe, and then to show clearly and in detail that the mind is shot through with that potentiality. __. (shrink)
The article explains my third argument for panpsychism, based on disolving all properties, including dispositional physical properties like mass, energy, and force, into phenomenal properties. I thus reject a dual-property version of panpsychism. I seek to show, contrary to Paul Churchland, that the general panpsychist hypothesis has some explanatory value, and makes a cosmology consisting in comparative psychology possible. The mental life even of so-called physical particles in physics is hypothesized to help explain their behavior.
Most metaphysicians deny that dispositions are among the fundamental constituents of the world. The solubility of salt, for example, is regarded as derivative from more basic features of reality, such as the molecular structure of salt and the laws of nature. This is an initially plausible view: a disposition seems to be essentially a characterization of what its bearer can do, which seems to be wholly dependent on what that bearer is like. ;Nonetheless, I think that the most attractive view (...) of dispositions is that they are fundamental constituents of reality---in fact, almost all real properties are irreducibly dispositional. Following D. M. Armstrong, I call this view dispositionalism. In my dissertation, I address several major difficulties for dispositionalism. For instance, it is often argued that dispositionalism makes causal relations necessary, and is thus committed to an unacceptable theory of causation. In response to this worry, I defend the thesis that causal relations are necessary. A second objection is based on C. B. Martin's "finkish" cases. It is widely accepted that some accounts of dispositions are able to escape this objection by adopting David Lewis's response to it. Contra Lewis, I argue that dispositionalism can follow in their footsteps. Finally, I consider the objection that dispositionalism, by implying that it is dispositions all the way down, leads to a vicious regress. I think that this is the most serious problem for dispositionalism, and although I do not fully lay it to rest, I make some headway. ;I also survey a wide range of competing theories of dispositions. I argue that the difficulties they face are both far greater than has been recognized, and more serious than the difficulties that beset dispositionalism. The result is not a conclusive proof of dispositionalism, but a demonstration that this underdog theory is preferable to its more popular competitors. (shrink)
According to non-reductive physicalism, mental properties of the phenomenal sort are essentially different from physical properties, and cannot be reduced to them. This being a quarrel about properties, I draw on the categorical / dispositional distinction to discuss this non-reductive claim. Typically, non-reductionism entails a categorical view of phenomenal properties. Contrary to this, I will argue that phenomenal properties, usually characterized by what it is like to have them, are mainly the manifestation of (...) class='Hi'>dispositionalproperties. This paper is thus divided into two parts. In the first part, after tracing a working distinction between categorical and dispositionalproperties, I argue that there is a form of incoherence looming behind the idea of taking phenomenal properties as categorical. In the second part, I argue in favor of the view that phenomenal properties are dispositionalproperties with an essential manifestation. This interpretation allows us to broaden dispositionalism so as to include the sciences of mind, thus ultimately favoring a physicalist view on the mind. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialism maintains that all sparse properties are essentially powerful. Two conceptions of sparse properties appear compatible with dispositional essentialism: sparse properties as pure powers or as powerful qualities. This paper compares the two views, criticizes the powerful qualities view, and then develops a new theory of pure powers, termed Point Theory. This theory neutralizes the main advantage powerful qualities appear to possess over pure powers—explaining the existence of powers during latency periods. The paper discusses (...) the relation between powers and space-time points, whether pure powers need to occupy space, and how to account for the movement of pure powers through space-time. Given Point Theory, dispositional essentialists should maintain that sparse properties are pure powers. (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.
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)
Inspired by an analogy between moral and secondary properties, some moral philosophers have argued that moral properties are dispositions. According to one version of this view, most clearly represented by Jonathan Dancy, a moral property is the property of being such, having base properties such, that an entity with the property elicits morally merited and motivating responses. Its proponents have argued that this notion can explain how moral judgements can be objective in the sense of expressing (...) class='Hi'>properties that are independent of will and yet imply motivation by those who assert them. In special consideration of Dancy’s Moral Reasons, I argue that the dispositional account does not save the idea of objectivity in the required sense and implies an untenable view of moral motivation. I therefore conclude that the dispositional account fails to explain the two features of moral judgements. (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)
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)
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 book explores the dispositional and categorical debates on the metaphysics of properties. It defends the view that all fundamental properties and relations are contingently categorical, while also examining alternative accounts of the nature of properties. Drawing upon both established research and the author's own investigation into the broader discipline of the metaphysics of science, this book provides a comprehensive study of the many views and opinions regarding a most debatable topic in contemporary metaphysics.
Dispositional essentialism is a non-Humean view about the essences of certain fundamental or natural properties that looms large in recent metaphysics , not least because it promises to explain neatly the natural modalities such as laws of nature, counterfactuals, causation and chance. In the current paper, however, several considerations are presented that indicate a serious tension between its essentialist core thesis and natural “metaphysical” interpretations of its central explanatory claims.
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.
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)
A popular version of anti-Humeanism is one that views fundamental properties as being irreducibly dispositional in nature, and it is a view to which I am attracted. Proponents of this view typically object to Humean regularity theories of laws on the basis that they do not explain why our world is regular rather than chaotic from moment to moment. It is thought that, for this reason, Humeanism does not provide firm enough foundations for induction. However, in this paper (...) I argue that it is far from clear how these anti-Humeans can themselves explain this regularity. This is because it is far from clear how they can explain why the entities in our world do not change their dispositionalproperties arbitrarily over time. This is a neglected problem, which I call the retention problem. In an attempt to solve this problem, several naturalistic explanations of retention are explored. Unfortunately, none of these explanations is free of problems, showing that dispositional forms of anti-Humeanism may not have as many advantages as some have assumed where the problem of induction is concerned. (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 article I defend an account of Meteorology IV as providing a material-level causal account of the emergence of uniform materials with a wide range of dispositionalproperties not found at the level of the four elements—the emergence of material complexity. I then demonstrate that this causal account is used in the Generation of Animals and Parts of Animals as part of the explanation of the generation of the uniform parts (tissues) and of their role in providing (...) nonuniform parts (organs) with the dispositionalproperties needed to fulfill their functions. (shrink)
: 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)
: In The Varieties of Consciousness, Kriegel argues that it is possible to devise a method to sort out the irreducible primitive phenomenologies that exist. In this paper I argue that his neutrality notwithstanding, Kriegel assumes a form of realism that leaves unresolved many of the conundrums that characterize the debate on consciousness. These problems are evident in the centrality he assigns to introspection and his characterization of cognitive phenomenology. Keywords : Consciousness; Introspection; Realism; Type-identity; DispositionalProperties I (...) primitivi della coscienza e la loro realtà Riassunto : In The Varieties of Consciousness Kriegel sostiene la possibilità di concepire un metodo per mettere ordine tra le esperienze fenomenicamente primitive effettivamente esistenti, ciascuna nella propria irriducibilità rispetto alle altre. In questo testo intendo sostenere che, nonostante la sua neutralità, Kriegel assume una forma di realismo che lascia aperti molti dei problemi che caratterizzano il dibattito sulla coscienza. Questi problemi diventano evidenti sia nella centralità assegnata all’introspezione sia nella caratterizzazione specifica della fenomenologia cognitiva. Parole chiave : Coscienza; Introspezione; Realismo; Identità di tipo; Proprietà disposizionali. (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 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)
Suppose that X and Y can’t possibly exist apart in reality; then—by definition—there’s no real distinction between them, only a conceptual distinction. There’s a conceptual distinction between a rectilinear figure’s triangularity and its trilaterality, for example, but no real distinction. In fundamental metaphysics there is no real distinction between an object’s categorical properties and its dispositionalproperties. So too there is no real distinction between an object and its properties. And in fundamental metaphysics, for X and (...) Y to be such that there is no real distinction between them is for them to be identical. (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-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)