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Barbara Vetter
Freie Universität Berlin
Barbara Vetter
Freie Universität Berlin
  1.  17
    Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality.Barbara Vetter - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
    Individual objects have potentials: paper has the potential to burn, an acorn has the potential to turn into a tree, some people have the potential to run a mile in less than four minutes. Barbara Vetter provides a systematic investigation into the metaphysics of such potentials, and an account of metaphysical modality based on them. -/- In contemporary philosophy, potentials have been recognized mostly in the form of so-called dispositions: solubility, fragility, and so on. Vetter takes dispositions as her starting (...)
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  2. Dispositions Without Conditionals.Barbara Vetter - 2014 - Mind 123 (489):129-156.
    Dispositions are modal properties. The standard conception of dispositions holds that each disposition is individuated by its stimulus condition(s) and its manifestation(s), and that their modality is best captured by some conditional construction that relates stimulus to manifestation as antecedent to consequent. I propose an alternative conception of dispositions: each disposition is individuated by its manifestation alone, and its modality is closest to that of possibility — a fragile vase, for instance, is one that can break easily. The view is (...)
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  3. Multi‐Track Dispositions.Barbara Vetter - 2013 - Philosophical Quarterly 63 (251):330-352.
    It is a familiar point that many ordinary dispositions are multi-track, that is, not fully and adequately characterisable by a single conditional. In this paper, I argue that both the extent and the implications of this point have been severely underestimated. First, I provide new arguments to show that every disposition whose stimulus condition is a determinable quantity must be infinitely multi-track. Secondly, I argue that this result should incline us to move away from the standard assumption that dispositions are (...)
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  4. Perceiving Potentiality: A Metaphysics for Affordances.Barbara Vetter - forthcoming - Topoi:1-15.
    According to ecological psychology, animals perceive not just the qualities of things in their environment, but their affordances: in James Gibson’s words, ’what things furnish, for good or ill’. I propose a metaphysics for affordances that fits into a contemporary anti-Humean metaphysics of powers or potentialities. The goal is to connect two debates, one in the philosophy of perception and one in metaphysics, that stand to gain much from each other.
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  5. Are Abilities Dispositions?Barbara Vetter - forthcoming - Synthese 196 (1).
    Abilities are in many ways central to what being an agent means, and they are appealed to in philosophical accounts of a great many different phenomena. It is often assumed that abilities are some kind of dispositional property, but it is rarely made explicit exactly which dispositional properties are our abilities. Two recent debates provide two different answers to that question: the new dispositionalism in the debate about free will, and virtue reliabilism in epistemology. This paper argues that both answers (...)
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  6. Williamsonian Modal Epistemology, Possibility-Based.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):766-795.
    Williamsonian modal epistemology is characterized by two commitments: realism about modality, and anti-exceptionalism about our modal knowledge. Williamson’s own counterfactual-based modal epistemology is the best known implementation of WME, but not the only option that is available. I sketch and defend an alternative implementation which takes our knowledge of metaphysical modality to arise, not from knowledge of counterfactuals, but from our knowledge of ordinary possibility statements of the form ‘x can F’. I defend this view against a criticism indicated in (...)
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  7.  99
    How Many Meanings for ‘May’? The Case for Modal Polysemy.Barbara Vetter & Emanuel Viebahn - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16.
    The standard Kratzerian analysis of modal auxiliaries, such as ‘may’ and ‘can’, takes them to be univocal and context-sensitive. Our first aim is to argue for an alternative view, on which such expressions are polysemous. Our second aim is to thereby shed light on the distinction between semantic context-sensitivity and polysemy. To achieve these aims, we examine the mechanisms of polysemy and context-sensitivity and provide criteria with which they can be held apart. We apply the criteria to modal auxiliaries and (...)
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  8. Recent Work: Modality Without Possible Worlds.Barbara Vetter - 2011 - Analysis 71 (4):742-754.
    This paper surveys recent "new actualist" approaches to modality that do without possible worlds and locate modality squarely in the actual world. New actualist theories include essentialism and dispositionalism about modality, each of which can come in different varieties. The commonalities and differences between these views, as well as their shared motivations, are layed out.
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  9. Counterpossibles for Dispositionalists.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2681-2700.
    Dispositionalists try to provide an account of modality—possibility, necessity, and the counterfactual conditional—in terms of dispositions. But there may be a tension between dispositionalist accounts of possibility on the one hand, and of counterfactuals on the other. Dispositionalists about possibility must hold that there are no impossible dispositions, i.e., dispositions with metaphysically impossible stimulus and/or manifestation conditions; dispositionalist accounts of counterfactuals, if they allow for non-vacuous counterpossibles, require that there are such impossible dispositions. I argue, first, that there are in (...)
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  10. 'Can' Without Possible Worlds: Semantics for Anti-Humeans.Barbara Vetter - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    Metaphysicians of modality are increasingly critical of possible-worlds talk, and increasingly happy to accept irreducibly modal properties – and in particular, irreducible dispositions – in nature. The aim of this paper is to provide the beginnings of a modal semantics which uses, instead of possible-worlds talk, the resources of such an 'anti-Humean' metaphysics. One central challenge to an anti-Humean view is the context-sensitivity of modal language. I show how that challenge can be met and a systematic modal semantics provided, given (...)
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  11.  54
    Dispositional Accounts of Abilities.Barbara Vetter & Romy Jaster - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (8):e12432.
    This paper explores the prospects for dispositional accounts of abilities. According to so-called new dispositionalists, an agent has the ability to Φ iff they have a disposition to Φ when trying to Φ. We show that the new dispositionalism is beset by some problems that also beset its predecessor, the conditional analysis of abilities, and bring up some further problems. We then turn to a different approach, which links abilities not to motivational states but to the notion of success, and (...)
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  12. Dispositional Essentialism and the Laws of Nature.Barbara Vetter - 2012 - In Alexander Bird, Brian Ellis & Howard Sankey (eds.), Properties, Powers, and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism. Routledge.
  13. On Linking Dispositions and Which Conditionals?Barbara Vetter - 2011 - Mind 120 (480):1173-1189.
    Manley and Wasserman (2008) have provided a convincing case against analyses of dispositions in terms of one conditional, and a very interesting positive proposal that links any disposition to a ‘suitable proportion’ of a particular set of precise conditionals. I focus on their positive proposal and ask just how precise those conditionals are to be. I argue that, contrary to what Manley and Wasserman imply in their paper, they must be maximally specific, describing in their antecedents complete centred worlds. This (...)
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  14. Potentiality and Possibility.Barbara Vetter - 2010 - Dissertation, Oxford
    In this thesis, I develop a nonreductive and general conception of potentiality, and explore the prospects of a realist account of possibility based on this account of potentiality. Potentialities are properties of individual objects; they include dispositions such as fragility and abilities such as the ability to play the piano. Potentialities are individuated by their manifestation alone. In order to provide a unified account of potentialities, I argue in chapter 2 that dispositions, contrary to philosophical orthodoxy, are best understood in (...)
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  15.  42
    II—Evolved Powers, Artefact Powers, and Dispositional Explanations.Barbara Vetter - 2018 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 92 (1):277-297.
    Alexander Bird puts forward a modest version of anti-Humeanism about the non-fundamental, by providing an argument for the existence of a certain select class of non-fundamental but sparse dispositions: those that have an evolutionary function. I argue that his argument over-generates, so much so that the sparse–abundant distinction, and with it the tenet of his anti-Humean view, becomes obsolete. I suggest an alternative way of understanding anti-Humeanism in the non-fundamental realm, one which is not concerned with the existence of sparse (...)
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  16.  37
    Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties. [REVIEW]Barbara Vetter - 2009 - Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 12:320-328.
  17. Dispositionen in der Metaphysik der Wissenschaften.Romy Jaster & Barbara Vetter - 2012 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 66 (3):429-447.
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  18.  45
    A Plenitude of Powers.Barbara Vetter - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    Dispositionalism about modality is the view that metaphysical modality is a matter of the dispositions possessed by actual objects. In a recent paper, David Yates has raised an important worry about the formal adequacy of dispositionalism. This paper responds to Yates’s worry by developing a reply that Yates discusses briefly but dismisses as ad hoc: an appeal to a ’plenitude of powers’ including such powers as the necessarily always manifested power for \ to be 4. I argue that the reply (...)
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  19.  34
    Digging Deeper: Why Metaphysics is More Than a Toolbox.Barbara Vetter - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2):231-241.
    Steven French proposes a vindication of “scientifically disinterested” metaphysics that leaves little room to its original ambitions. He claims that as a discipline that looks to find out truths about the world, it is untenable; and that rather, its vindication lies in its use as a “toolbox” of concepts for a philosophical discipline that does have a claim at getting us closer to truth—the philosophy of science, and more specifically of physics. I respond to both his main claims. The first (...)
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  20. Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature.Barbara Vetter - 2011 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (1):83 - 86.
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 25, Issue 1, Page 83-86, March 2011.
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  21.  19
    Semantik, Pragmatik und Ontologie: Felka über spezifizierende Sätze und einfache Argumente.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 70 (4):406-411.
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  22.  11
    Précis Zu Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality.Barbara Vetter - 2015 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 69 (3):391-395.
    In this paper, I outline the argument of my book "Potentiality: from dispositions to modality". The paper is part of a symposium on the book (in German).
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  23.  13
    Semantik, Pragmatik Und Ontologie: Felka Über Spezifizierende Sätze Und Einfache Argumente.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 70 (3):406-411.
    This paper critically comments on Katharina Felka's book "Talking about numbers". I question her assumption that specifying sentences are a semantically unified class. The paper is part of a symposium on the book (in German).
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  24.  4
    Repliken.Barbara Vetter - 2015 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 69 (3):408-412.
    In this paper, I respond to criticism raised by Markus Schrenk and Ralf Busse on my book "Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality". The paper is part of a symposium on the book (in German).
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