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)
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)
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)
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.
_ 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)
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 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 disposition ascriptions escapes the original difficulty.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
Dispostions, such as solubility, cannot 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.
I suggest that we may settle the question of their relatedness by way of two arguments. The first argument holds that two worlds might be identical in structure but different in their dispositions and subsequent behaviors. This argument loosens the relation of dispositional to structural properties; but, though plausible in itself, the argument has disastrous implications for the uniformity of processes within each world. The second argument supports our intuitive belief that the dependency of a thing’s dispositions upon (...) its structure must be complete, e.g., as the knife’s powers for cutting devolve only upon the fine edge of its rigid blade. This second argument is also a defence against the chaotic implications of the previous one. But it has these two effects only because of affirming that structural properties are, more accurately, geometrical-structural properties. Together, these arguments justify the conclusion that no theory of dispositions is comprehensive, unless it provides for these two factors: Geometrical-structural properties are necessary and sufficient to determine what a thing’s dispositions shall be; but these structural properties are distinguishable from dispositions as properties constitutive of a thing are different from its qualifications for relatedness, and especially causal relatedness, to other things. (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)
This paper examines certain influential contemporary philosophical analyses of the notion of a person and show why they are misguided. Inspired by the Lockean conception of a person, some philosophers claim that personhood must be attributed only to those human beings who can meet certain criteria required for it. Here the views of Tooley, Dennett and Singer will be discussed against the backdrop of the metaphysics of powers ontology as advocated by contemporary philosophers: C. B. Martin, John Heil and others.
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)
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.
The aim of this paper is to motivate a view on dispositions according to which dispositions and their manifestations are partially identical, the DM identity theory. It sets out by extrapolating the desiderata of a dispositionalist account of properties. It then shows that the previous theories are burdened with different problems, whose common cause, so the argument goes, is the separation assumption, which almost all share. It states that dispositions and their manifestations are numerically distinct. The paper then explores (...) whether the separation assumption can be abandoned and shows that there are precursors of a DM identity theory. The DM identity theory is then outlined in its central features and it is outlined how they can fulfil the desiderata of dispositionalism. (shrink)
Categorical Monism (that is, the view that all fundamental natural properties are purely categorical) has recently been challenged by a number of philosophers. In this paper, I examine a challenge which can be based on Gabriele Contessa’s  defence of the view that only powers can confer dispositions. In his paper Contessa argues against what he calls the Nomic Theory of Disposition Conferral (NTDC). According to NTDC, in each world in which they exist, (categorical) properties confer specific dispositions (...) on their bearers; yet, which disposition a (categorical) property confers on its bearers depends on what the (contingent) laws of nature happen to be. Contessa, inter alia, rests his case on an intuitive analogy between cases of mimicking (in which objects do not actually possess the dispositions associated with their displayed behaviour) and cases of disposition conferral through the action of laws. In this paper, I criticize various aspects of Contessa’s argumentation and show that the conclusion he arrives at (that is, only powers can confer dispositions) is controversial. (shrink)
This paper examines the need for static dispositions within the basic ontology of the powers view of properties. To lend some focus, Neil Williams’s well developed case for static dispositions is considered. While his arguments are not necessarily intended to address fundamental ontology, they still provide a useful starting point, a springboard for diving into the deeper metaphysical waters of the dispositionalist approach. Within that ontological context, this paper contends that Williams’s arguments fail to establish the need to posit (...) static dispositions, or at least any sort not already well appreciated by advocates of the powers view. The paper then proceeds to suggest an alternative motivation for positing static dispositions, the success of which depends greatly on which ontological approach to objects is paired with the powers view. (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)
The distinction between primary and secondary properties establishes the absolute priority, both ontological and epistemological, of quantity over quality. In between the two properties, primary and secondary, are the dispositionalproperties, for example fragility, malleability, rigidity, and so on. But, from an ontological point of view, what are dispositionalproperties? This contribution takes into consideration two possible answers to this question: the one according to which the dispositionalproperties are invariant in variation (...) and another according to which they are powers. The second answer is in turn subject to two different interpretations. We can consider dispositions, or powers, as integrally reducible to behavioral events, or physical. However, we can consider powers as ontologically autonomous and not-grounded. This contribution aims to investigate the latter solution, with particular reference to the apparently oxymoronic notion of physical intentionality. This notion will provide a new, dynamic, and evolutionary version of the concept of disposition and at the same time offer a new look at the distinction between primary and secondary properties. (shrink)