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- Broken Structuralism.Stathis Psillos - forthcoming - Metascience:1-9.This essay offers a critical review of Steven French's The Structure of the World: Metaphysics & Representation. I challenge some of the reasons that French adduces against ‘thick’ objects as well as his conception of laws—which I think is problematic.
- MaxCon Extended Simples and the Dispositionalist Ontology of Laws.Travis Dumsday - 2017 - Synthese 194 (5).Extended simples are physical objects that, while spatially extended, possess no actual proper parts. The theory that physical reality bottoms out at extended simples is one of the principal competing views concerning the fundamental composition of matter, the others being atomism and the theory of gunk. Among advocates of extended simples, Markosian’s ‘MaxCon’ version of the theory has justly achieved particular prominence. On the assumption of causal realism, I argue here that the reality of MaxCon simples would entail the reality (...)
- Derivative Properties in Fundamental Laws.Michael Townsen Hicks & Jonathan Schaffer - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).Orthodoxy has it that only metaphysically elite properties can be invoked in scientifically elite laws. We argue that this claim does not fit scientific practice. An examination of candidate scientifically elite laws like Newton’s F = ma reveals properties invoked that are irreversibly defined and thus metaphysically non-elite by the lights of the surrounding theory: Newtonian acceleration is irreversibly defined as the second derivative of position, and Newtonian resultant force is irreversibly defined as the sum of the component forces. We (...)
- Lowe's Unorthodox Dispositionalism.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - Res Philosophica 93 (1):79-101.The deep differences between E. J. Lowe’s ontology of dispositions and that maintained by other prominent dispositionalists have received relatively little attention in the existing literature on his work. Here I lay out some of these differences, along the way attempting to clarify whether Lowe’s ontology can properly be termed ‘dispositionalist.’ I then argue that the unique features of his ontology allow it to avoid some well-known worries facing standard dispositionalism, while at the same time opening his view to novel (...)
- Laws Are Conditionals.Toby Friend - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):123-144.The ubiquitous schema ‘All Fs are Gs’ dominates much philosophical discussion on laws but rarely is it shown how actual laws mentioned and used in science are supposed to fit it. After consideration of a variety of laws, including those obviously conditional and those superficially not conditional, I argue that we have good reason to support the traditional interpretation of laws as conditionals of some quantified form with a single object variable. I show how this conclusion impacts on the status (...)
- Conceptual Analysis and Natural Kinds: The Case of Knowledge.Joachim Horvath - 2016 - Synthese 193 (1):167-184.There is a line of reasoning in metaepistemology that is congenial to naturalism and hard to resist, yet ultimately misguided: that knowledge might be a natural kind, and that this would undermine the use of conceptual analysis in the theory of knowledge. In this paper, I first bring out various problems with Hilary Kornblith’s argument from the causal–explanatory indispensability of knowledge to the natural kindhood of knowledge. I then criticize the argument from the natural kindhood of knowledge against the method (...)
- Universals, Laws, and Governance.Matthew Tugby - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1147-1163.Proponents of the dispositional theory of properties typically claim that their view is not one that offers a realist, governing conception of laws. My first aim is to show that, contrary to this claim, if one commits to dispositionalism then one does not automatically give up on a robust, realist theory of laws. This is because dispositionalism can readily be developed within a Platonic framework of universals. Second, I argue that there are good reasons for realist dispositionalists to favour a (...)
- The Dispositional Genome: Primus Inter Pares.Christopher J. Austin - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (2):227-246.According to the proponents of Developmental Systems Theory and the Causal Parity Thesis, the privileging of the genome as “first among equals” with respect to the development of phenotypic traits is more a reflection of our own heuristic prejudice than of ontology - the underlying causal structures responsible for that specified development no more single out the genome as primary than they do other broadly “environmental” factors. Parting with the methodology of the popular responses to the Thesis, this paper offers (...)
- Heil’s Two-Category Ontology and Causation.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):1091-1099.In his recent book, The Universe As We Find It, John Heil offers an updated account of his two-category ontology. One of his major goals is to avoid including relations in his basic ontology. While there can still be true claims positing relations, such as those of the form “x is taller than y” and “x causes y,” they will be true in virtue of substances and their monadic, non-relational properties. That is, Heil’s two-category ontology is deployed to provide non-relational (...)
- Events and the Ontology of Quantum Mechanics.Mauro Dorato - 2015 - Topoi 34 (2):369-378.In the first part of the paper I argue that an ontology of events is precise, flexible and general enough so as to cover the three main alternative formulations of quantum mechanics as well as theories advocating an antirealistic view of the wave function. Since these formulations advocate a primitive ontology of entities living in four-dimensional spacetime, they are good candidates to connect that quantum image with the manifest image of the world. However, to the extent that some form of (...)
- Laws of Nature and the Reality of the Wave Function.Mauro Dorato - 2015 - Synthese 192 (10):3179-3201.In this paper I review three different positions on the wave function, namely: nomological realism, dispositionalism, and configuration space realism by regarding as essential their capacity to account for the world of our experience. I conclude that the first two positions are committed to regard the wave function as an abstract entity. The third position will be shown to be a merely speculative attempt to derive a primitive ontology from a reified mathematical space. Without entering any discussion about nominalism, I (...)
- Some Ontological Consequences of Atomism.Travis Dumsday - 2015 - Ratio 28 (2):119-134.Is there a fundamental layer of objects in nature? And if so what sorts of things populate it? Among those who answer ‘yes’ to the first question, a common answer to the second is ‘atoms,’ where an atom is understood in the original sense of an object that is spatially unextended, indivisible, and wholly lacking in proper parts. Here I explore some of the ontological consequences of atomism. First, if atoms are real, then whatever motion they appear to undergo must (...)
- Powers, Non‐Consent and Freedom.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (1):136-152.There are a number of dispositionalist solutions to the free will problem based on freedom consisting in the agent's exercise of a power. But if a subject a is free when they exercise their power P, there is an objection to be overcome from the possibility of power implantation. A brainwasher, rather than directly manipulating a subject's movements, can instead implant in them a desire, to be understood as a disposition to act, and allow the subject to exercise such a (...)
- The Dispositionalist Deity: How God Creates Laws and Why Theists Should Care.Ben Page - 2015 - Zygon 50 (1):113-137.How does God govern the world? For many theists “laws of nature” play a vital role. But what are these laws, metaphysically speaking? I shall argue that laws of nature are not external to the objects they govern, but instead should be thought of as reducible to internal features of properties. Recent work in metaphysics and philosophy of science has revived a dispositionalist conception of nature, according to which nature is not passive, but active and dynamic. Disposition theorists see particulars (...)
- Dispositions and the Principle of Least Action Revisited.Benjamin T. H. Smart & Karim P. Y. Thébault - 2015 - Analysis 75 (3):386-395.Some time ago, Joel Katzav and Brian Ellis debated the compatibility of dispositional essentialism with the principle of least action. Surprisingly, very little has been said on the matter since, even by the most naturalistically inclined metaphysicians. Here, we revisit the Katzav–Ellis arguments of 2004–05. We outline the two problems for the dispositionalist identified Katzav in his 2004 , and claim they are not as problematic for the dispositional essentialist at it first seems – but not for the reasons espoused (...)
- Metaphysics, Laws, and Natural Kinds: Minimalist Approaches.Cristian Soto - 2015 - Metascience 24 (2):321-331.Debates on the metaphysics of science have steadily gained momentum over the last decade or so. This appears to illustrate a case of philosophers’ realisation that metaphysics—and theoretical philosophy overall—largely depends upon the sciences and has a good deal to learn from them. Recent literature on this, in fact, has reached an unforeseen high level of refinement in the arguments and a very much desirable precision in the consequences that we can derive from examining the interplay currently undergoing between science (...)
- The Modal Status of Laws: In Defence of a Hybrid View.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):509-528.Three popular views regarding the modal status of the laws of nature are discussed: Humean Supervenience, nomic necessitation, and scientific/dispositional essentialism. These views are examined especially with regard to their take on the apparent modal force of laws and their ability to explain that modal force. It will be suggested that none of the three views, at least in their strongest form, can be maintained if some laws are metaphysically necessary, but others are metaphysically contingent. Some reasons for thinking that (...)
- The Modal Limits of Dispositionalism.Jennifer Wang - 2015 - Noûs 49 (3):454-469.
- Can Moral Principles Explain Supervenience?Aaron Elliott - 2014 - Res Philosophica 91 (4):629-659.The distribution of moral properties supervenes on the distribution of natural properties, and this provides a puzzle for non-naturalism: what could explain supervenience if moral properties are not natural properties? Enoch claims moral principles explain supervenience. But this solution is incomplete without an account of what moral principles and properties are, and what relation holds between them. This paper begins to develop such an account by exploring analogous issues for Realism about Laws of nature in philosophy of science. Appealing to (...)
- Causal Powers as Metaphysical Grounds for Laws or Nature.Michael Ghins - 2014 - Epistemologia 37 (2):183-201.
- The Causal Criterion of Property Identity and the Subtraction of Powers.Sophie C. Gibb - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (1):127-146.According to one popular criterion of property identity, where X and Y are properties, X is identical with Y if and only if X and Y bestow the same conditional powers on their bearers. In this paper, I argue that this causal criterion of property identity is unsatisfactory, because it fails to provide a sufficient condition for the identification of properties. My argument for this claim is based on the observation that the summing of properties does not entail the summing (...)
- Can Bare Dispositions Explain Categorical Regularities?Tyler Hildebrand - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):569-584.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 (...)
- Miracles and Two Accounts of Scientific Laws.Steven Horst - 2014 - Zygon 49 (2):323-347.Since early modernity, it has often been assumed that miracles are incompatible with the existence of the natural laws utilized in the sciences. This paper argues that this assumption is largely an artifact of empiricist accounts of laws that should be rejected for reasons internal to philosophy of science, and that no such incompatibility arises on the most important alternative interpretations, which treat laws as expressions of forces, dispositions, or causal powers.
- Hylomorphism and the Metaphysics of Structure.William Jaworski - 2014 - Res Philosophica 91 (2):179-201.Hylomorphism claims that structure is a basic ontological and explanatory principle; it accounts for what things are and what they can do. My goal is to articulate a metaphysic of hylomorphic structure different from those currently on offer. It is based on a substance-attribute ontology that takes properties to be powers and tropes. Hylomorphic structures emerge, on this account, as powers to configure the materials that compose individuals.
- Radical Non-Dispositionalism and the Permutation Problem.Vassilios Livanios - 2014 - Axiomathes 24 (1):45-61.Radical non-dispositionalism is the view according to which the actual causal/nomic roles of natural properties are totally irrelevant to their de re modal representation. The major difficulty besetting all forms of radical non-dispositionalism is that the latter allegedly allows the metaphysical possibility of two natural properties swapping their actual causal/nomic roles. The aim of this paper is to provide a plausible solution to that problem. To this end, I describe the necessary steps that a proponent of the view may take (...)
- After Hume.Ruth Porter Groff - 2014 - Journal of Critical Realism 13 (4):422-442.
- Parsing the Rainbow.Pendaran Roberts - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8):1793-1811.Navigating the ontology of color used to be a simple affair. There was the naive view that colors really are in objects the way they appear, and the view that they are secondary qualities to cause certain experiences in us. Today, there are myriad well-developed views but no satisfactory taxonomy of philosophical theories on color. In this article, I first examine the two newest taxonomies on offer and argue that they are inadequate. In particular, I look at Brogaard’s taxonomy and (...)
- Categoricalism, Dispositionalism, and the Epistemology of Properties.Matthew Tugby - 2014 - Synthese 191 (6):1-16.Notoriously, the dispositional view of natural properties is thought to face a number of regress problems, one of which points to an epistemological worry. In this paper, I argue that the rival categorical view is also susceptible to the same kind of regress problem. This problem can be overcome, most plausibly, with the development of a structuralist epistemology. After identifying problems faced by alternative solutions, I sketch the main features of this structuralist epistemological approach, referring to graph-theoretic modelling in the (...)
- Why Metrical Properties Are Not Powers.Andreas Bartels - 2013 - Synthese 190 (12):2001-2013.What has the dispositional analysis of properties and laws (e.g. Molnar, Powers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003; Mumford, Laws in nature, Routledge London, 2004; Bird, Nature’s metaphysics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007) to offer to the scientific understanding of physical properties?—The article provides an answer to this question for the case of spacetime points and their metrical properties in General Relativity. The analysis shows that metrical properties are not ‘powers’, i.e. they cannot be understood as producing the effects of spacetime on (...)
- Laws of Nature Don't Have Ceteris Paribus Clauses, They Are Ceteris Paribus Clauses.Travis Dumsday - 2013 - Ratio 26 (2):134-147.Laws of nature are properly (if controversially) conceived as abstract entities playing a governing role in the physical universe. Dispositionalists typically hold that laws of nature are not real, or at least are not fundamental, and that regularities in the physical universe are grounded in the causal powers of objects. By contrast, I argue that dispositionalism implies nomic realism: since at least some dispositions have ceteris paribus clauses incorporating uninstantiated universals, and these ceteris paribus clauses help to determine their dispositions' (...)
- Using Natural-Kind Essentialism to Defend Dispositionalism.Travis Dumsday - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (4):869-880.Marc Lange and Ann Whittle have independently developed an important challenge to dispositionalism, arguing that dispositions are reducible to primitive subjunctive facts. I argue in reply that by pairing dispositionalism with a certain version of natural-kind essentialism, their objection can be overcome. Moreover, such a marriage carries further advantages for the dispositionalist. My aim is therefore two-fold: to defend dispositionalism, and to give the dispositionalist some new motivation to adopt natural-kind essentialism.
- Semi-Realism, Sociability and Structure.Steven French - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):1 - 18.Semi-realism offers a metaphysics of science based on causal properties. Insofar as these are understood in terms of dispositions for specific relations that comprise the concrete structure of the world it can be regarded as a form of structural realism. And insofar as these properties are 'sociable' and cohere into the groupings that comprise the particulars investigated by science, it captures the underlying intuition behind forms of entity realism. However, I shall raise concerns about both these features. I shall suggest (...)
- Truthmakers and the Direct Argument.Charles Hermes - 2013 - Philosophical Studies (2):401-418.The truthmaker literature has recently come to the consensus that the logic of truthmaking is distinct from classical propositional logic. This development has huge implications for the free will literature. Since free will and moral responsibility are primarily ontological concerns (and not semantic concerns) the logic of truthmaking ought to be central to the free will debate. I shall demonstrate that counterexamples to transfer principles employed in the direct argument occur precisely where a plausible logic of truthmaking diverges from classical (...)
- In Defence of Activities.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2013 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 44 (1):69-83.In this paper, we examine what is to be said in defence of Machamer, Darden and Craver’s (MDC) controversial dualism about activities and entities (Machamer, Darden and Craver’s in Philos Sci 67:1–25, 2000). We explain why we believe the notion of an activity to be a novel, valuable one, and set about clearing away some initial objections that can lead to its being brushed aside unexamined. We argue that substantive debate about ontology can only be effective when desiderata for an (...)
- A Dispositional Theory of Love.Hichem Naar - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (3):342-357.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 (...)
- A Dispositional Account of Conflicts of Obligation.Luke Robinson - 2013 - Noûs 47 (2):203-228.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) (...)
- Is the Humean Defeated by Induction?Benjamin Smart - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):319-332.Many necessitarians about cause and law (Armstrong 1983; Mumford 2004; Bird 2007) have argued that Humeans are unable to justify their inductive inferences, as Humean laws are nothing but the sum of their instances. In this paper I argue against these necessitarian claims. I show that Armstrong is committed to the explanatory value of Humean laws (in the form of universally quantified statements), and that contra Armstrong, brute regularities often do have genuine explanatory value. I finish with a Humean attempt (...)
- Graph-Theoretic Models of Dispositional Structures.Matthew Tugby - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (1):23-39.The focus of this article is the view about fundamental natural properties known as dispositional monism. This is a holistic view about nature, according to which all properties are essentially interrelated. The general question to be addressed concerns what kinds of features relational structures of properties should be thought to have. I use Bird's graph-theoretic framework for representing dispositional structures as a starting point, before arguing that it is inadequate in certain important respects. I then propose a more parsimonious graph-theoretic (...)
- Nomic Necessity for Platonists.Matthew Tugby - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (4):324-331.After identifying some existing explanations offered by nomic necessitarians for the alleged necessary connections between natural properties and their dispositional or nomic features, I discuss a less explored necessitarian strategy. This strategy is available to Platonists who hold that properties exist necessarily, as most do.
- The Essence of Dispositional Essentialism.David Yates - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):93-128.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 (...)
- On Anti Humeanism and Medical Singular Causation.Stefan Dragulinescu - 2012 - Acta Analytica 27 (3):265-292.Abstract In this paper I offer an anti-Humean interpretation of the causal interactions in somatic medicine. I focus on life-threatening pathological states and show how Nancy Cartwright’s capacities can offer a plausible epistemology for medical processes and the singular causal claims advanced in medical diagnoses. I argue that the capacities manifested in the emergence of symptoms and signs could be tracked down if healthy organisms are construed as nomological machines and suggest that the causal reasoning from current medical practice bears (...)
- Dispositions, Primitive Activities, and Essentially Active Objects.Travis Dumsday - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (1):43-64.The question of whether there could be a physical object that is necessarily constantly active has a long history, and it has recently arisen again in the literature on dispositions. I examine and critique two proposals for affirming the possibility of such an object. I then advocate a third option, one which is workable if paired with natural-kind essentialism. Finally I briefly outline three possible implications of this view for wider debates concerning the ontology of dispositions and natural kinds.
- Objects, Discreteness, and Pure Power Theories: George Molnar’s Critique of Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties. [REVIEW]Sharon Ford - 2012 - Metaphysica 13 (2):195-215.Sydney Shoemaker’s causal theory of properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper, I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address George Molnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the causal theory of properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects if they are to be (...)
- Exploring the Metaphysics of Nomic Relations.Vassilios Livanios - 2012 - Acta Analytica 27 (3):247-264.After defending the ontologically genuine existence of at least some of the actual nomic relations, I discuss some issues concerning their metaphysical features. I firstly argue in favour of the metaphysical contingency of nomic relations and then I suggest that their relata-specificity is the most plausible metaphysical view that guarantees the unity of facts that the laws of nature are. Finally, I present a novel account according to which some of the actual nomic relations are neither external nor external but (...)
- Hume's Argument for the Ontological Independence of Simple Properties.Jani Hakkarainen - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):197-212.In this paper, I will reconstruct Hume's argument for the ontological (in the sense of rigid existential) independence of simple properties in A Treatise of Human Nature , Book 1 (1739). According to my reconstruction, the main premises of the argument are the real distinctness of every perception of a simple property, Hume's Separability Principle and his Conceivability Principle. In my view, Hume grounds the real distinctness of every perception of a simple property in his atomistic theory of sense perception (...)
- Explanation in Metaphysics?Johannes Persson - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):165-181.Arguments from explanation, i.e. arguments in which the explanatory value of a hypothesis or premise is appealed to, are common in science, and explanatory considerations are becoming more popular in metaphysics. The paper begins by arguing that explanatory arguments in scienceâ€”even when these are metaphysical explanationsâ€” may fail to be explanatory in metaphysics; there is a distinction to be drawn between metaphysical explanation and explanation in metaphysics. This makes it potentially problematic to deploy arguments from explanation in, for instance, metaphysics (...)
- Moral Principles As Moral Dispositions.Luke Robinson - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):289-309.What are moral principles? In particular, what are moral principles of the sort that (if they exist) ground moral obligations or—at the very least—particular moral truths? I argue that we can fruitfully conceive of such principles as real, irreducibly dispositional properties of individual persons (agents and patients) that are responsible for and thereby explain the moral properties of (e.g.) agents and actions. Such moral dispositions (or moral powers) are apt to be the metaphysical grounds of moral obligations and of particular (...)
- Possible Ideas of Necessity in Indian Logic.Sundar Sarukkai - 2011 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 40 (5):563-582.It is often remarked that Indian logic (IL) has no conception of necessity. But what kind of necessity is absent in this system? Logical necessity is presumably absent: the structure of the logical argument in IL is often given as a reason for this claim. However even a cursory understanding of IL illustrates an abiding attempt to formulate the idea of necessity. In Dharmakīrti's classification of inferences, one can detect the formal process of entailment in the inferences arising from class (...)
- Diseases as Natural Kinds.Stefan Dragulinescu - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (5):347-369.In this paper, I focus on life-threatening medical conditions and argue that from the point of view of natural properties, induction(s), and participation in laws, at least some of the ill organisms dealt with in somatic medicine form natural kinds in the same sense in which the kinds in the exact sciences are thought of as natural. By way of comparing two ‘divisions of nature’, viz., a ‘classical’ exact science kind (gold) and a kind of disease (Graves disease), I show (...)
- A Powers Theory of Modality: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Reject Possible Worlds.Jonathan D. Jacobs - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):227-248.Possible worlds, concrete or abstract as you like, are irrelevant to the truthmakers for modality—or so I shall argue in this paper. First, I present the neo-Humean picture of modality, and explain why those who accept it deny a common sense view of modality. Second, I present what I take to be the most pressing objection to the neo-Humean account, one that, I argue, applies equally well to any theory that grounds modality in possible worlds. Third, I present an alternative, (...)
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