Unmanifested powers and universals

Synthese 200 (2):1-22 (2022)
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According to a well-known argument against dispositional essentialism, the nature of unmanifested token powers leaves dispositional essentialists with an objectionable commitment to the reality of non-existent entities. The idea is that, because unmanifested token powers are directed at their non-existent token manifestations, they require the reality of those manifestations. Arguably the most promising response to this argument works by claiming that, if properties are universals, dispositional directedness need only entail the reality of actually existing manifestation types. I argue that this response fails, because no version of the response can adequately accommodate dispositions of the sort that follow from Coulomb’s law. This result both defeats an important argument that dispositional essentialists ought to be realists about universals and appears to leave dispositional essentialists with a problematic commitment to either non-relational connections or a Meinongian ontology.

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Ashley Coates
University of the Witwatersrand

References found in this work

Modal Logic as Metaphysics.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties.Alexander Bird - 2007 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
From an Ontological Point of View.John Heil - 2003 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
A World of States of Affairs.D. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7:429-440.

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