Noûs 39 (1):43–82 (2005)
Objects have dispositions. As Nelson Goodman put it, “a thing is full of threats and promises”. But sometimes those threats go unfulﬁlled, and the promises unkept. Sometimes the dispositions of objects fail to manifest themselves, even when their conditions of manifestation obtain. Pieces of wood, disposed to burn when heated, do not burn when heated in a vacuum chamber. And pastries, disposed to go bad when left lying around too long, won’t do so if coated with lacquer and put on display in a baker ’s window. Any account of what a disposition is, or of what it takes for an object to have a disposition, should be compatible with these commonplace observations. To date, I believe, no adequate account of dispositions has been given, and the aim of this paper is to defend one
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