For the last several decades, dispositional properties have been one of the main topics in metaphysics. Still, however, there is little agreement among contemporary metaphysicians on the nature of dispositional properties. Apparently, though, the majority of them have reached the consensus that dispositional ascriptions cannot be analysed in terms of simple counterfactual conditionals. In this paper it will be brought to light that this consensus is wrong. Specifically, I will argue that the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, which is generally (...) thought to be dead, is in fact an adequate analysis of dispositions. I will go on to discuss Mumford’s view of dispositions from the perspective of the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. (shrink)
Lewis claims that Martin’s cases indeed refute the simple conditional analysis of dispositions and proposes the reformed conditional analysis that is purported to overcome them. In this paper I will first argue that Lewis’s defense of the reformed analysis can be understood to invoke the concepts of disposition-specific stimulus and manifestation. I will go on to argue that advocates of the simple analysis, just like Lewis, can also defend their analysis from alleged counterexamples including Martin’s cases by invoking the concepts (...) of disposition-specific stimulus and manifestation. This means that Lewis’s own necessary defense of the reformed analysis invalidates his motivation of it. Finally, I will argue that we have a good reason to favor the simple analysis over Lewis’s analysis. (shrink)
The central theme of this paper is the dispositional/categorical distinction that has been one of the top agendas in contemporary metaphysics. I will first develop from my semantic account of dispositions what I think the correct formulation of the dispositional/categorical distinction in terms of counterfactual conditionals. It will be argued that my formulation does not have the shortcomings that have plagued previously proposed ones. Then I will turn my attention to one of its consequences, the thesis that dispositional properties are (...) not susceptible to intrinsic finks. This thesis was first advanced by me and has ever since stirred up a big controversy, endorsed by some philosophers like Handfield, Bird, and Cohen but rejected by others like Clarke and Fara. Against this background, I will remedy my defense of the impossibility of intrinsically finkable dispositions and then refute some of apparently powerful criticisms of it. And so the upshot is that it is much more reasonable to hold on to the thesis that dispositions are intrinsically unfinkable. This will have the effect of putting the dispositional/categorical distinction on firmer and more secure ground. (shrink)
Stephen Mumford, in his book on dispositions, argues that we can distinguish between dispositional and categorical properties in terms of entailing his 'conditional conditionals', which involve the concept of ideal conditions. I aim at defending Mumford's criterion for distinguishing between dispositional and categorical properties. To be specific, no categorical ascriptions entail Mumford's 'conditional conditionals'.
The idea that dispositions are an intrinsic matter has been popular among contemporary philosophers of dispositions. In this paper I will first state this idea as exactly as possible. I will then examine whether it poses any threat to the two current versions of the conditional analysis of dispositions, namely, the simple and reformed conditional analysis of dispositions. The upshot is that the intrinsic nature of dispositions, when properly understood, doesn't spell trouble for either of the two versions of the (...) conditional analysis of dispositions. Along the way, I will propose an extensionally correct and practically useful criterion for identifying nomically intrinsic dispositions and criticize one objection raised by Lewis against the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. (shrink)
In this paper I put forward a counterexample against Lewis’s reformed conditional analysis of fragility and then refute a possible response by Lewis. And I go on to argue that Lewis can overcome the counterexample by excluding fragility-mimickers from the stimulus appropriate to the concept of fragility.
In this paper I will first consider Bird's cases against the conditional analysis of dispositions and defend them from Gundersen's objection. This does not mean that I believe that Bird's cases are successful. To the contrary, I take it that we can save the conditional analysis from Bird's cases by taking Lewis's two-step approach to dispositions. However, I will go on to argue that if Bird's cases are supplemented with the assumption that dispositions are intrinsic matter, they are able to (...) do what they are intended to do. (shrink)
It is held by some philosophers that it is possible that x has a disposition D but, if the stimulus condition obtains, it won’t manifest D because of an intrinsic interference. I will criticize this position on the ground that it has a deeply sceptical consequence, for instance, that, assuming that I am not well informed of the micro-properties of a metal coin, I do not know that it is not water-soluble. But I urge that this is beyond the pale, (...) especially in light of the weight of the practical considerations we take when we use dispositional concepts in everyday life or science. In doing so, further, I will formulate a type of belief-forming inference and claim that it confers justification on commonsensical dispositional beliefs like the one that a metal coin isn’t water-soluble. (shrink)
Is it possible that one and the same object x has opposing dispositions at the same time? One's first reaction might be that it is evidently impossible. On the assumption that x is incombustible, it seems to follow that it is not combustible. Surprisingly enough, however, it is claimed that there are a number of examples in support of the possibility of simultaneous co-instantiation of opposing dispositions. In this paper, I will bring under scrutiny some of the examples and come (...) to the conclusion that none of them achieve the desired goal. This will give support to the initial intuition that opposing dispositions cannot be co-instantiated by one and the same object at the same time. (shrink)
The idea that dispositions are an intrinsic matter has been popular among contemporary philosophers of dispositions. In this paper I will first state this idea as exactly as possible. I will then examine whether it poses any threat to the two current versions of the conditional analysis of dispositions, namely, the simple and reformed conditional analysis of dispositions. The upshot is that the intrinsic nature of dispositions, when properly understood, doesn’t spell trouble for either of the two versions of the (...) conditional analysis of dispositions. Along the way, I will propose an extensionally correct and practically useful criterion for identifying nomically intrinsic dispositions and criticize one objection raised by Lewis against the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. (shrink)
Recently Stephen Barker has raised stimulating objections to the thesis that, roughly speaking, if two events stand in a relation of counterfactual dependence, they stand in a causal relation. As Ned Hall says, however, this thesis constitutes the strongest part of the counterfactual analysis of causation. Therefore, if successful, Barker’s objections will undermine the cornerstone of the counterfactual analysis of causation, and hence give us compelling reasons to reject the counterfactual analysis of causation. I will argue, however, that they do (...) not withstand scrutiny. (shrink)
Kittle's recent paper brings into focus two interesting aspects of dispositions and employs them in an attempt to distinguish between cases where dispositions are subject to intrinsic interferers and cases where not. But I will argue below that Kittle doesn’t succeed in this attempt. The upshot is that no such distinction is in sight, and this continues to be a troubling problem for those philosophers who uphold the possibility of intrinsic interferers with dispositions by insisting that, whilst some dispositions aren’t (...) subject to intrinsic interferers, others are. (shrink)
In this paper, I will first clarify Lewis’s influence theory of causation by relying on his theory of events. And then I will consider Michael Strevens’s charge against the sufficiency of Lewis’s theory. My claim is that it is legitimate but does not pose as serious a problem for Lewis’s theory as Strevens thinks because Lewis can surmount it by limiting the scope of his theory to causation between concrete events. Michael Strevens raises an alleged counterexample to the necessity of (...) Lewis’s theory that, if successful, would have a very important advantage over other alleged counterexamples. But I will assert that it is simply mistaken. My defense of Lewis’s theory will shed interesting light on the relationship between Lewis’s theory and Salmon’s mark theory. (shrink)
Elizabeth Prior claims that dispositional predicates are incomplete in the sense that they have more than one argument place. To back up this claim, she offers a number of arguments that involve such ordinary dispositional predicates as ‘fragile’, ‘soluble’, and so on. In this paper, I will first demonstrate that one of Prior’s arguments that ‘is fragile’ is an incomplete predicate is mistaken. This, however, does not immediately mean that Prior is wrong that ‘fragile’ is an incomplete predicate. On the (...) contrary, I maintain that she has offered another valid argument that does indeed establish the claim that ‘fragile’ is an incomplete predicate. I will argue further that Prior is right that ‘soluble’ is an incomplete predicate. Then does this mean that all dispositional predicates are incomplete? I don’t think so. I will suggest that there are complete dispositional predicates that have no more than one argument place. Finally, by relying on my discussion of the incompleteness of dispositional predicates, I will attempt to provide a better understanding of the context-dependence and intrinsic nature of dispositional ascriptions. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Salmon's response to two counterexamples to his conserved quantity (CQ) theory of causation. The first counterexample that I examine involves a time‐wise gerrymandered world line of a series of patches of wall that is absorbing energy as a result of being illuminated in an astrodome. Salmon says that since the gerrymandered world line does not fulfill his “no‐interaction requirement,” his CQ theory does not suffer from the counterexample. But I will argue that his response fails (...) both at a theoretical level and at a practical level. In so doing I point out a problem for CQ theorists' definition of a causal interaction. The second counterexample is concerned with a time‐wise gerrymandered world line of a series of patches that are in shadow, in Hitchcock's well‐known example. Salmon's response is based on a principle that Salmon thinks is derivable from the concept of a conserved quantity. However, I argue that the principle has a counterexample. (shrink)
This paper discusses Lee’s argument that Lewis’s reformed conditional analysis of dispositions is preferable to the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. Lee’s argument is basically that there are some examples that can be adequately handled by Lewis’s analysis but cannot by the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. But I will reveal that, when carefully understood, they spell no trouble for the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, failing to serve a motivating role for Lewis’s analysis.
In this paper I will discuss Richard Holton’s defence of dispositionalism that all properties are essentially dispositional. By way of countering the objection that dispositionalism generates an infinite regress, Holton attempts to advance a consistent model of possible worlds where all truths are dispositional truths. But I will argue that the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, on which Holton’s model is built, is so mistaken that Holton’s model fails to serve his goal. What is more, it is not likely that (...) we can successfully materialize the driving idea of Holton’s model on an appropriately revised version of the conditional analysis of dispositions. Finally, I will discuss the lesson on the methodology of philosophy that we can learn from Holton’s failure. (shrink)
Schaffer proposes a new account of probabilistic causation that synthesizes the probability-raising and process-linkage views on causation. The driving idea of Schaffer's account is that, although an effect does not invariably depend on its cause, a process linked to the effect does. In this paper, however, I will advance counterexamples to Schaffer's account and then demonstrate that Schaffer's possible responses to them do not work. Finally, I will argue that my counterexamples suggest that the driving idea of Schaffer's account is (...) misdirected. (shrink)
Advocates of the conserved quantity (CQ) theory of causation have their own peculiar problem with conservation laws. Since they analyze causal process and interaction in terms of conserved quantities that are in turn defined as physical quantities governed by conservation laws, they must formulate conservation laws in a way that does not invoke causation, or else circularity threatens. In this paper I will propose an adequate formulation of a conservation law that serves CQ theorists' purpose.
Many recently released Hollywood films feature superheroes like Superman, Ironman, the Hulk, Optimus Prime, and so on who possess amazing superpower and defeat supervillains with unassailable commitment to moral justice. Interestingly, different superheroes possess and exercise their superpower in very different fashions. What is more, this aspect of their difference is intimately related to an issue that is lately in intense debate among metaphysicians of powers and dispositions, the issue of the possibility of intrinsic interferers with dispositions. This paper will (...) argue that a strong case can be made against this possibility when we give due weight to the commonsensical understanding of superheroes and their superpower. Whilst other arguments have been raised against the possibility of intrinsic interferers with dispositions in the latest literature, this will present further difficulties for those who accept it. (shrink)
This paper challenges a popular thesis which we call the explanatory primitiveness thesis (for short, EPT), namely, the thesis that identities leave no logical space wherein explanatory questions may be formulated and explanatory gaps may reside. We argue that while EPT is, in all likelihood, flawless when the relevant domain consists of identity statements flanked by proper names of individuals it is a mistake to hold that the thesis generalizes to cover all identity statements. In particular, we argue that EPT (...) fails decisively with respect to an important class of identity statements, viz., those in which natural kinds are identified across different theoretical levels (i.e., the so-called inter-level type-identities). If correct, our result shows EPT to be much more limited in scope than is usually supposed. Moreover, and perhaps more significantly, it shows that there is no inherent absurdity in the idea that certain type-identity statements, in particular psychophysical type-identity statements, suffer from an explanatory gap. (shrink)
Manley and Wasserman's PROP account of dispositions has been influential in the recent debate about the nature of dispositions. In this paper, I will bring under scrutiny one crucial step in Manley and Wasserman's reasoning leading to the PROP account. The step is one where they abandon what they call ‘MOST’, the idea that x is disposed to M when C iff x would M in most cases where C obtains. I will argue below, however, that this step is invalid.