Away with Dispositional Essences in Trope Theory

In Ludger Jansen & Petter Sandstad (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Formal Causation. London, UK, New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 106-123 (2021)
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A specific variety of formal causation is dispositional essentialism. This chapter argues that dispositional essentialism is incompatible with any trope bundle theory committed to the primitive identity of tropes, such as Keith Campbell’s account and the authors’ own Strong Nuclear Theory. Dispositional essentialism would render at least some tropes identity-dependent on other tropes, while all tropes must be considered identity-independent existents in these trope theories. Furthermore, dispositional essentialism relies on the problematic notion of dispositional essence, and it remains unclear whether dispositional essentialism gains any ontological economy in comparison with the views taking laws of nature as primitive. Finally, the chapter outlines an alternative view based on Deborah Smith’s non-recombinational quidditism. According to it, tropes as determinate particular natures necessarily play certain nomological roles. It is argued that this might be completed with a new conception of tropes as parts of causal processes, which further clarifies the necessary connection between tropes and certain nomological roles.



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Jani Hakkarainen
Tampere University
Markku Keinänen
Tampere University

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