Only Powers Can Confer Dispositions

Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259):160-176 (2015)
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Abstract

According to power theorists, properties are powers—i.e. they necessarily confer on their bearers certain dispositions. Although the power theory is increasingly gaining popularity, a vast majority of analytic metaphysicians still favors what I call ‘the nomic theory’—i.e. the view according to which what dispositions a property confers on its bearers is contingent on what the laws of nature happen to be. This paper argues that the nomic theory is inconsistent, for, if it were correct, then properties would not confer any dispositions on their bearers—they would only appear to do so (just like how, in cases of mimicking, objects do not really have the relevant dispositions, they merely appear to have them). If my arguments are sound, then the nomic theory is incoherent and ultimately collapses into what I call ‘neo-occasionalism’ and powers turns out to be the only available option for those who believe that properties genuinely confer dispositions on their bearers.

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Gabriele Contessa
Carleton University

Citations of this work

The Question of Realism for Powers.Lorenzo Azzano - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):329-354.
Epiphenomenal Properties.Umut Baysan - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):419-431.
Do Categorical Properties Confer Dispositions on Their Bearers?Vassilis Livanios - 2018 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):61-82.
Lawful Mimickers.Umut Baysan - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):488-494.

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» The Nature of Natural Laws «.Chris Swoyer - 1982 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 60 (3):1982.

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