Pandispositionalism: a study

Matthew Tugby
Durham University
In this thesis, I offer the first full-length study of the metaphysical view known as pandispositionalism. Pandispositionalism is a view about natural properties (and relations), and its central claim is that all such properties are irreducibly dispositional, or 'powerful', in nature. In recent decades, the idea that dispositions are real, irreducible features of reality has gained increased credibility, yet pandispositionalism – the strongest form of realism about dispositions - remains a possibility which has not been fully explored. During this thesis I aim to go some way towards remedying this. The thesis is split into two parts. The first part of the thesis, which comprises six chapters, falls under the broad title 'The Metaphysics of Pandispositionalism'. My primary aim during this part of the thesis is to develop a metaphysical framework within which pandispositionalism can plausibly be sustained. In the course of doing this, the questions to be addressed include: Are irreducibly dispositional properties best viewed as universals or (sets of) tropes? In what ways are properties related on the pandispositionalist picture? How are relational structures of dispositional properties best represented? Can geometrical properties really be understood in dispositional terms? The second part of the thesis, which comprises five chapters, falls under the broad title 'Pandispositionalism and Causation'. It has often been said that a plausible realist account of causation should fall out of a dispositional ontology, but the details are yet to be worked out. In this part of the thesis I aim to sketch the kind of view of causation we are arguably left with if pandispositionalism is accepted. Questions to be addressed include: Should the pandispositionalists accept that causes and effects can be simultaneous? Can the Salmon-type process theory of causation be straightforwardly understood in dispositionalist terms? Can the pandispositionalists plausibly view cases of property realisation as cases of causation?
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