Is Dispositional Causation Just Mutual Manifestation?

Ratio 29 (3):235-248 (2015)
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Abstract

Dispositional properties are often referred to as ‘causal powers’, but what does dispositional causation amount to? Any viable theory must account for two fundamental aspects of the metaphysics of causation – the causal complexity and context sensitivity of causal interactions. The theory of mutual manifestations attempts to do so by locating the complexity and context sensitivity within the nature of dispositions themselves. But is this theory an acceptable first step towards a viable theory of dispositional causation? This paper argues that the reconceptualization that the theory entails comes at too high a price, and is an unnecessary step in the wrong direction: these two central aspects concerning the metaphysics of causation can and should be accounted for in a dispositional account of causation without it.

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Christopher J. Austin
Durham University

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