Laws and essences

Ratio 18 (4):437–461 (2005)

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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Author's Profile

Alexander James Bird
Cambridge University

References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.

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Citations of this work

Properties.Francesco Orilia & Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 2004 - In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 193.
The Regress of Pure Powers?Alexander Bird - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):513–534.
Metaphysics of the Principle of Least Action.Vladislav Terekhovich - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 62:189-201.

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