Dispositionality, categoricity, and where to find them

Synthese 199 (1-2):2949-2976 (2020)
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Discussions about dispositional and categorical properties have become commonplace in metaphysics. Unfortunately, dispositionality and categoricity are disputed notions: usual characterizations are piecemeal and not widely applicable, thus threatening to make agreements and disagreements on the matter merely verbal—and also making it arduous to map a logical space of positions about dispositional and categorical properties in which all parties can comfortably fit. This paper offers a prescription for this important difficulty, or at least an inkling thereof. This will be achieved by comparing pairs of positions and exploring their background metaphysics to discover where alleged agreements and disagreements concerning dispositionality and categoricity really lie; more specifically, the Pure Powers view and the Powerful Qualities view will be under scrutiny. Over this background, the prescription functions by isolating a successful identity-based characterization of categoricity, while abandoning the correspondent identity-based characterization of dispositionality. On the contrary, according to this prescription a property is dispositional if and only if it is solely in virtue of possessing that property that its bearer is assigned a certain dispositional profile. A crucial consequence of this prescription is that, while supporters of the Pure Powers view often characterize their position as an essentialist one, the dispositionality of properties needn’t always be a matter of essence.



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Lorenzo Azzano
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

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A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
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From an Ontological Point of View.John Heil - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
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