Laws and essences

Ratio 18 (4):437–461 (2005)
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Abstract

Those who favour an ontology based on dispositions are thereby able to provide a dispositional essentialist account of the laws of nature. In part 1 of this paper I sketch the dispositional essentialist conception of properties and the concomitant account of laws. In part 2, I characterise various claims about the modal character of properties that fall under the heading ‘quidditism’ and which are consequences of the categoricalist view of properties, which is the alternative to the dispositional essentialist view. I argue that quidditism should be rejected. In part 3, I address a criticism of a strong dispositional essentialist view, viz. that ‘structural’ (i.e. geometrical, numerical, spatial and temporal) properties must be regarded as categorical.

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Alexander James Bird
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

Inference to the Best explanation.Peter Lipton - 2004 - In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 193.
Properties.Francesco Orilia & Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The regress of pure powers?Alexander Bird - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):513–534.
Metaphysics of the principle of least action.Vladislav Terekhovich - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 62:189-201.

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References found in this work

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Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Sydney Shoemaker.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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