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The Powerlessness of Necessity

Noûs 44 (4):725-739 (2010)

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  1. Dispositional Essentialism and the Grounding of Natural Modality.Siegfried Jaag - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
    Dispositional essentialism is a non-Humean view about the essences of certain fundamental or natural properties that looms large in recent metaphysics , not least because it promises to explain neatly the natural modalities such as laws of nature, counterfactuals, causation and chance. In the current paper, however, several considerations are presented that indicate a serious tension between its essentialist core thesis and natural “metaphysical” interpretations of its central explanatory claims.
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  • Aristotelian Essentialism: Essence in the Age of Evolution.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2539-2556.
    The advent of contemporary evolutionary theory ushered in the eventual decline of Aristotelian Essentialism (Æ) – for it is widely assumed that essence does not, and cannot have any proper place in the age of evolution. This paper argues that this assumption is a mistake: if Æ can be suitably evolved, it need not face extinction. In it, I claim that if that theory’s fundamental ontology consists of dispositional properties, and if its characteristic metaphysical machinery is interpreted within the framework (...)
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  • The Principle of the Causal Openness of the Physical.Daniel Von Wachter - 2019 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 26 (1):40-61.
    The argument from causal closure for physicalism requires the principle that a physical event can only occur through being necessitated by antecedent physical events. This article proposes a view of the causal structure of the world that claims not only that an event need not be necessitated by antecedent events, but that an event cannot be necessitated by antecedent events. All events are open to counteraction. In order to spell out various kinds of counteraction I introduce the idea of ‘directedness.’.
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  • The Emperor's New Metaphysics of Powers.Stephen Barker - 2013 - Mind 122 (487):605-653.
    This paper argues that the new metaphysics of powers, also known as dispositional essentialism or causal structuralism, is an illusory metaphysics. I argue for this in the following way. I begin by distinguishing three fundamental ways of seeing how facts of physical modality — facts about physical necessitation and possibility, causation, disposition, and chance — are grounded in the world. The first way, call it the first degree, is that the actual world or all worlds, in their entirety, are the (...)
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  • Regularities, Natural Patterns and Laws of Nature.Stathis Psillos - 2014 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 29 (1):9-27.
    The goal of this paper is to sketch an empiricist metaphysics of laws of nature. The key idea is that there are regularities without regularity-enforcers. Differently put, there are natural laws without law-makers _of a distinct metaphysical kind_. This sketch will rely on the concept of a natural pattern and more significantly on the existence of a network of natural patterns in nature. The relation between a regularity and a pattern will be analysed in terms of mereology. Here is the (...)
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  • Categoricalism Versus Dispositionalism: A Case Study in Metametaphysics.Cord Friebe - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):5-15.
    Using meta-metaphysical instruments, the paper analyzes the dispute between ‘reductionist’ Humean categoricalism and ‘bold’ Anti-Humean dispositionalism. It is argued that both views are non-Quinean, hence, heavyweight ontological realisms: careful analysis of specific scientific theories alone is not sufficient. Further, sophisticated philosophical reasoning is needed to defend Anti-Humeanism as well as Humeanism. The paper finally suggests that most if not all ontological disputes are unavoidably “speculative” due to essentialism which cannot be read off contemporary physical theories.
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  • Recent Work: Modality Without Possible Worlds.Barbara Vetter - 2011 - Analysis 71 (4):742-754.
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  • Powers: Necessity and Neighborhoods.Neil Williams - 2014 - American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (4):357-372.
    It is commonplace among friends of irreducible causal powers to depict powers as producing their characteristic manifestations as a matter of metaphysical necessity. That is to say that when a power finds itself in those circumstances that stimulate it, it cannot help but be exercised: its effects must occur. The result is a metaphysic that depicts the world not as loose and separate but as united by the strongest glue; this is but one way in which the world as understood (...)
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  • Panpsychism and Causation: A New Argument and a Solution to the Combination Problem.Hedda Hassel Mørch - 2014 - Dissertation, Oslo
    Panpsychism is the view that every concrete and unified thing has some form of phenomenal consciousness or experience. It is an age-old doctrine, which, to the surprise of many, has recently taken on new life. In philosophy of mind, it has been put forth as a simple and radical solution to the mind–body problem (Chalmers 1996, 2003;Strawson 2006; Nagel 1979, 2012). In metaphysics and philosophy of science, it has been put forth as a solution to the problem of accounting for (...)
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  • Double Prevention and Powers.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2009 - Journal of Critical Realism 8 (3):277-293.
    Does A cause B simply if A prevents what would have prevented B? Such a case is known as double prevention: where we have the prevention of a prevention. One theory of causation is that A causes B when B counterfactually depends on A and, as there is such a dependence, proponents of the view must rule that double prevention is causation.<br><br>However, if double prevention is causation, it means that causation can be an extrinsic matter, that the cause and effect (...)
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  • Getting Causes From Powers By Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum.J. McKitrick - 2013 - Analysis 73 (2):402-404.
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  • Ethics and the Acquisition of Organs.D. Marquis - 2013 - Analysis 73 (2):404-406.
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  • Antidotes for Dispositional Essentialism.Markus Schrenk - 2010 - In Anna Marmodoro (ed.), The Metaphysics of Powers: Their Grounding and Their Manifestations. Routledge.
    Since the mid-90s dispositionalism, the view that dispositions are irreducible, real properties, gained strength due to forceful counterexamples (finks and antidotes) that could be launched against Humean anti-dispositionalist attempts to reductively analyse dispositional predicates. -/- In the light of these anti-Humean successes, and in combination with ideas surrounding metaphysical necessity put forward by Kripke and Putnam, some dispositionalists felt encouraged to propose a strong anti-Humean view under the name of “Dispositional Essentialism”. -/- In this paper, I show that, ironically, the (...)
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  • Metaphysics of Laws and Ontology of Time.Cord Friebe - 2018 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 33 (1):77-89.
    At first glance, every metaphysics of laws can be combined with every ontology of time. In contrast, the paper intends to show that Humeanism requires eternalism and that Power metaphysics must presuppose an existentially dynamical view of temporal existence, i.e. growing block or presentism. The presented arguments turn out to be completely independent of whether the laws of nature are deterministic or probabilistic: the world is non-productive and static or productively dynamical, the future be ‘open’ or not.
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  • Essentiality Without Necessity.Petter Sandstad - 2016 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):61-78.
    It is widely accepted that if a property is essential then it is necessary. Against this I present numerous counterexamples from biology and chemistry, which fall into two groups: (I) A property is essential to a genus or species, yet some instances of this genus or species do not have this essential property. (II) A property is essential to a genus, yet some species of this genus do not have this essential property. I discuss and reject four minor objections. Then (...)
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  • Why Metrical Properties Are Not Powers.Andreas Bartels - 2013 - Synthese 190 (12):2001-2013.
    What has the dispositional analysis of properties and laws (e.g. Molnar, Powers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003; Mumford, Laws in nature, Routledge London, 2004; Bird, Nature’s metaphysics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007) to offer to the scientific understanding of physical properties?—The article provides an answer to this question for the case of spacetime points and their metrical properties in General Relativity. The analysis shows that metrical properties are not ‘powers’, i.e. they cannot be understood as producing the effects of spacetime on (...)
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  • The Modal Limits of Dispositionalism.Jennifer Wang - 2015 - Noûs 49 (3):454-469.
    Dispositionality is a modal notion of a certain sort. When an object is said to have a disposition, we typically understand this to mean that under certain circumstances, the object would behave in a certain way. For instance, a fragile object is disposed to break when dropped onto a concrete surface. It need not actually break - its being fragile has implications that, so to speak, point beyond the actual world. According to dispositionalism, all modal features of the world may (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Desire and Dispositions.Lauren Ashwell - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (7):469-477.
    There seems to be some kind of close relationship between desires and behavioral dispositions. While a popular view about the nature of desire is that it essentially involves dispositions towards action, there do seem to be pressing objections to this view. However, recent work on dispositional properties potentially undermines some of the metaphysical assumptions that lie beneath these objections.
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  • Explaining the Modal Force of Natural Laws.Andreas Bartels - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (1):6.
    In this paper, I will defend the thesis that fundamental natural laws are distinguished from accidental empirical generalizations neither by metaphysical necessity, 147–155, 2005, 2007) nor by contingent necessitation. The only sort of modal force that distinguishes natural laws, I will argue, arises from the peculiar physical property of mutual independence of elementary interactions exemplifying the laws. Mutual independence of elementary interactions means that their existence and their nature do not depend in any way on which other interactions presently occur. (...)
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  • Hume Versus the Vulgar on Resistance, Nisus, and the Impression of Power.Colin Marshall - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (2):305-319.
    In the first Enquiry, Hume takes the experience of exerting force against a solid body to be a key ingredient of the vulgar idea of power, so that the vulgar take that experience to provide us with an impression of power. Hume provides two arguments against the vulgar on this point: the first concerning our other applications of the idea of power and the second concerning whether that experience yields certainty about distinct events. I argue that, even if we accept (...)
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