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Dispositions without Conditionals

Mind 123 (489):129-156 (2014)

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  1. A Multiply Qualified Conditional Analysis of Disposition Ascription: Mapping the Conceptual Topography of Ceteris Paribus.Jesse R. Steinberg & Alan M. Steinberg - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (4):777-793.
    Given that an analysis of disposition ascription cannot be made in terms of a simple subjunctive conditional, we present a multiply qualified conditional analysis that places disposition ascription within an implicit fundamental causal conceptual typography within which a disposition ascription is embedded, framed, and understood. By placing the multiply qualified analysis within an implicit causal matrix involving a focal cause, pathway of influence, mechanism of action, contributing/partial cause, mediator, extrinsic moderator,, intrinsic moderator, and manifestation, we show how this analysis evades (...)
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  • Dispositional Realism, Conflicting Models and Contrastive Explanation.Adriana Spehrs - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:1-10.
    Chakravartty puts forward a view of scientific knowledge that conceives of properties attributed to objects by scientific models as dispositions. Those dispositions refer to the capacity of an object to behave differently in different circumstances. This pluralism of behaviour is intended to show that perspectivalism does not exclude the possibility of non-perspectival knowledge. To support this claim, he offers an analogy between conflicting models and contrastive explanations. I examine the strength of the purported analogy between conflicting models and contrastive explanations. (...)
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  • Grounding Theories of Powers.Matthew Tugby - forthcoming - Synthese:1-30.
    Necessitarianism, as we shall use the term, is the view that natural properties and causal powers are necessarily connected in some way. In recent decades the most popular forms of necessitarianism have been the anti-Humean powers-based theories of properties, such as dispositional essentialism and the identity theory. These versions of necessitarianism have come under fire in recent years and I believe it is time for necessitarians to develop a new approach. In this paper I identify unexplored ways of positing metaphysically (...)
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  • A Solution to the Many Attitudes Problem.Bob Beddor - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2789-2813.
    According to noncognitivism, normative beliefs are just desire-like attitudes. While noncognitivists have devoted great effort to explaining the nature of normative belief, they have said little about all of the other attitudes we take towards normative matters. Many of us desire to do the right thing. We sometimes wonder whether our conduct is morally permissible; we hope that it is, and occasionally fear that it is not. This gives rise to what Schroeder calls the 'Many Attitudes Problem': the problem of (...)
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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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  • Because There Is a Reason to Do It: How Normative Reasons Explain Action.Susanne Mantel - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (2):208-233.
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  • Perceiving Potentiality: A Metaphysics for Affordances.Barbara Vetter - 2020 - Topoi 39 (5):1177-1191.
    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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  • Using Linguistic Corpora as a Philosophical Tool.Jacob N. Caton - 2020 - Metaphilosophy 51 (1):51-70.
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  • A Plenitude of Powers.Barbara Vetter - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 6):1365-1385.
    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 2+2\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} (...)
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  • Against the Reduction of Modality to Essence.Nathan Wildman - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 6):1-17.
    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a claim of metaphysical modality, in possession of good alethic standing, must be in want of an essentialist foundation. Or at least so say the advocates of the reductive-essence-first view, according to which all modality is to be reductively defined in terms of essence. Here, I contest this bit of current wisdom. In particular, I offer two puzzles—one concerning the essences of non-compossible, complementary entities, and a second involving entities whose essences are modally (...)
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  • Modal Predicates.John Maier - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (6):443-457.
    I propose a semantics for a class of English predicates characteristically associated with possibility. The central idea is that such predicates are typically associated with an ordering source, and that differences among them are due to differences in their ordering sources. The ‘dispositional predicates’ that have been central to philosophical discussions are shown to be derivable as a special case from this more general class.
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  • 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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  • Lewis’s Revised Conditional Analysis Revisited.Eline Busck Gundersen - 2017 - Synthese 194 (11):1-18.
    In ‘Finkish Dispositions’, David Lewis proposed a revised conditional analysis of dispositions, designed to rule out counterexamples based on finkish dispositions and finkish lacks of dispositions. Bird and Choi have argued that Lewis’s amended analysis is vulnerable to two further types of counterexamples trading on mimicked and masked dispositions. This paper provides a diagnosis of why Lewis’s analysis inherits these problems, and investigates whether the means can be found—in Lewis’s paper or elsewhere—to defend his analysis against the counterexamples. A range (...)
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  • Does Everyone Think the Ability to Do Otherwise is Necessary for Free Will and Moral Responsibility?Simon Kittle - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (4):1177-1183.
    Christopher Franklin argues that, despite appearances, everyone thinks that the ability to do otherwise is required for free will and moral responsibility. Moreover, he says that the way to decide which ability to do otherwise is required will involve settling the nature of moral responsibility. In this paper I highlight one point on which those usually called leeway theorists - i.e. those who accept the need for alternatives - agree, in contradistinction to those who deny that the ability to do (...)
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  • Dispositions and Ergativity.John Maier - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):381-395.
    Attempts to give necessary and sufficient conditions for demarcating ‘dispositional’ predicates (such as ‘is fragile’) from other predicates are generally acknowledged to fail. This leaves unresolved the question of what it is about paradigm instances of dispositional predicates in virtue of which their application to an object constitutes a disposition ascription. This essay proposes that dispositional predicates are generally derived from ergative verbs, those verbs that allow for certain entailments from transitive to intransitive forms (as ‘Sam broke the glass’ entails (...)
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  • Know-How as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2017 - Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.
    What does it mean to know how to do something? This book develops a comprehensive account of know-how, a crucial epistemic goal for all who care about getting things right, not only with respect to the facts, but also with respect to practice. It proposes a novel interpretation of the seminal work of Gilbert Ryle, according to which know-how is a competence, a complex ability to do well in an activity in virtue of guidance by an understanding of what it (...)
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  • Semantic Dispositionalism Without Exceptions.Arvid Båve - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1751-1771.
    Semantic dispositionalism is roughly the view that meaning a certain thing by a word, or possessing a certain concept, consists in being disposed to do something, e.g., infer a certain way. Its main problem is that it seems to have so many and disparate exceptions. People can fail to infer as required due to lack of logical acumen, intoxication, confusion, deviant theories, neural malfunctioning, and so on. I present a theory stating possession conditions of concepts that are counterfactuals, rather than (...)
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  • Need Knowing and Acting Be SSS-Safe?Jaakko Hirvelä & Niall Paterson - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (2):127-134.
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Hylomorphism and Complex Properties.Graham Renz - 2020 - Metaphysica 21 (2):179-197.
    Hylomorphism is the Aristotelian theory according to which objects are composites of form and matter. Form is what unifies the various parts of an object – the matter – into a cohesive whole. Some contemporary hylomorphists argue their theory applies beyond the realm of concreta, and that it explains the unity of various abstract entities. Not everyone agrees. Recent criticism alleges that hylomorphism fails to explain the unity of certain abstract entities, namely, complex properties – properties with other properties as (...)
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  • A Corpus Study of "Know": On the Verification of Philosophers' Frequency Claims About Language.Nat Hansen, J. D. Porter & Kathryn Francis - 2019 - Episteme:1-27.
    We investigate claims about the frequency of "know" made by philosophers. Our investigation has several overlapping aims. First, we aim to show what is required to confirm or disconfirm philosophers’ claims about the comparative frequency of different uses of philosophically interesting expressions. Second, we aim to show how using linguistic corpora as tools for investigating meaning is a productive methodology, in the sense that it yields discoveries about the use of language that philosophers would have overlooked if they remained in (...)
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  • Corpus Analysis in Philosophy.Roland Bluhm - 2016 - In Martin Hinton (ed.), Evidence, Experiment and Argument in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language. Peter Lang. pp. 91-109.
    The experimental philosophy movement advocates the use of empirical methods in philosophy. The methods most often discussed and in fact employed in experimental philosophy are appropriated from the experimental paradigm in psychology. But there is a variety of other (at least partly) empirical methods from various disciplines that are and others that could be used in philosophy. The paper explores the application of corpus analysis to philosophical issues. Although the method is well established in linguistics, there are only a few (...)
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  • Plenitude and Necessarily Unmanifested Dispositions.Jonas Werner - forthcoming - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy.
    The principle of plenitude says that every material object coincides with abundantly many further objects that differ in their modal profiles. A necessarily unmanifested disposition is a disposition that necessarily does not manifest. This paper argues that if the principle of plenitude holds, then there are some necessarily unmanifested dispositions. These necessarily unmanifested dispositions will be argued to evade some objections against the cases of necessarily unmanifested dispositions put forward by Carrie Jenkins and Daniel Nolan.
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  • Mistakes as Revealing and as Manifestations of Competence.Felipe Morales Carbonell - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3289-3308.
    The final chapter of Elgin’s defends the claim that some mistakes mark significant epistemic achievements. Here, I extend Elgin’s analysis of the informativeness of mistakes for epistemic policing. I also examine the type of theory of competence that Elgin’s view requires, and suggest some directions in which this can be taken.
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  • Dispositions.Sungho Choi - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Constitutivism Without Normative Thresholds.Kathryn Lindeman - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3 (XII):231-258.
    Constitutivist accounts in metaethics explain the normative standards in a domain by appealing to the constitutive features of its members. The success of these accounts turns on whether they can explain the connection between normative standards and the nature of individuals they authoritatively govern. Many such explanations presuppose that any member of a norm-governed kind must minimally satisfy the norms governing its kind. I call this the Threshold Commitment, and argue that constitutivists should reject it. First, it requires constitutivists to (...)
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  • Minkish dispositions.Alan Hájek - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):4795-4811.
    Start with an ordinary disposition ascription, like ‘the wire is live’ or ‘the glass is fragile’. Lewis gives a canonical template for what he regards as the analysandum of such an ascription:“Something x is disposed at time t to give response r to stimulus s”.For example, the wire is disposed at noon to conduct electrical current when touched by a conductor.What Lewis calls “the simple conditional analysis” gives putatively necessary and sufficient conditions for the analysandum in terms of a counterfactual:“if (...)
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  • A Case for Weak Safety.Niklaas Tepelmann - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (4):545-569.
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  • Modal Virtue Epistemology.Bob Beddor & Carlotta Pavese - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):61-79.
    This essay defends a novel form of virtue epistemology: Modal Virtue Epistemology. It borrows from traditional virtue epistemology the idea that knowledge is a type of skillful performance. But it goes on to understand skillfulness in purely modal terms — that is, in terms of success across a range of counterfactual scenarios. We argue that this approach offers a promising way of synthesizing virtue epistemology with a modal account of knowledge, according to which knowledge is safe belief. In particular, we (...)
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  • 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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  • Dispositions.Michael Fara - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The glass vase on my desk is fragile. It should be handled with care because it it is likely to shatter or crack if it is knocked, dropped, or otherwise treated roughly. The vase has certain dispositions, for example the disposition to shatter when dropped. But what is this disposition? It seems on the one hand to be a perfectly real property, a genuine respect of similarity common to glass vases, china cups, ancient manuscripts, and anything else fragile. Yet on (...)
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  • Counterpossibles (Not Only) 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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  • Agentive Modals.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):301-343.
    This essay proposes a new theory of agentive modals: ability modals and their duals, compulsion modals. After criticizing existing approaches—the existential quantificational analysis, the universal quantificational analysis, and the conditional analysis—it presents a new account that builds on both the existential and conditional analyses. On this account, the act conditional analysis, a sentence like ‘John can swim across the river’ says that there is some practically available action that is such that if John tries to do it, he swims across (...)
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  • Disposition Ascriptions.Simona Aimar - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1667-1692.
    I argue that disposition ascriptions—claims like ‘the glass is fragile’—are semantically equivalent to possibility claims: they are true when the given object manifests the disposition in at least one of the relevant possible worlds.
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  • How to Activate a Power.Jennifer McKitrick - 2013 - In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 123-37.
    According to most views of dispositions or powers, they have “triggers” or activation conditions. Fragile things break when they are struck; explosive things explode when ignited. The notion of an activation event, or “trigger,” is central to the notion of a disposition. Dispositions are defined not only by their manifestations, but also by their triggers. Not everyone who grumbles and complains counts as irritable—just those who do so with little inducement. Not everything that can be broken counts as fragile—just things (...)
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  • Able to Do the Impossible.Jack Spencer - 2017 - Mind 126 (502):466-497.
    According to a widely held principle—the poss-ability principle—an agent, S, is able to only if it is metaphysically possible for S to. I argue against the poss-ability principle by developing a novel class of counterexamples. I then argue that the consequences of rejecting the poss-ability principle are interesting and far-reaching.
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  • 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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  • Lewis’ Conditional Analysis of Dispositions Revisited and Revised.Markus Schlosser - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (2):241-253.
    The conditional analysis of dispositions is widely rejected, mainly due to counterexamples in which dispositions are either “finkish” or “masked.” David Lewis proposed a reformed conditional analysis. This view avoids the problem of finkish dispositions, but it fails to solve the problem of masking. I will propose a reformulation of Lewis’ analysis, and I will argue that this reformulation can easily be modified so that it avoids the problem of masking. In the final section, I will address the challenge that (...)
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  • 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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  • Fundamental Properties and the Laws of Nature.Heather Demarest - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (5):334-344.
    Fundamental properties and the laws of nature go hand in hand: mass and gravitation, charge and electromagnetism, spin and quantum mechanics. So, it is unsurprising that one's account of fundamental properties affects one's view of the laws of nature and vice versa. In this essay, I will survey a variety of recent attempts to provide a joint account of the fundamental properties and the laws of nature. Many of these accounts are new and unexplored. Some of them posit surprising entities, (...)
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  • Reverse‐Cycle Intrinsic Finks.Sungho Choi - 2019 - Dialectica 73 (3):429-455.
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  • Dispositions and Tricks.Gabriele Contessa - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):587-596.
    According to the Simple Conditional Analysis of disposition ascriptions, disposition ascriptions are to be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals. The Simple Conditional Analysis is notoriously vulnerable to counterexamples. In this paper, I introduce a new sort of counterexample to the Simple Conditional Analysis of disposition ascriptions, which I call ‘tricks’. I then explore a number of possible strategies to modify the Simple Conditional Analysis so as to avoid tricks and conclude that, in order to avoid tricks, the associated counterfactual (...)
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  • Aesthetic Properties as Powers.Vid Simoniti - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1434-1453.
    Realist positions about aesthetic properties are few and far between, though sometimes developed by analogy to realism about secondary properties such as colours. By contrast, I advance a novel realist position about aesthetic properties, which is based on a disanalogy between aesthetic properties and colours. Whereas colours are usually perceived as relatively steady features of external objects, aesthetic properties are perceived as unsteady properties: as powers that objects have to cause a certain experience in the observer. Following on from this (...)
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