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Dispositions without Conditionals

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

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  1. 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Does Everyone Think the Ability to Do Otherwise is Necessary for Free Will and Moral Responsibility?Simon Kittle - 2018 - Philosophia:1-7.
    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Semantic Dispositionalism Without Exceptions.Arvid Båve - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-21.
    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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  • Lewis’ Conditional Analysis of Dispositions Revisited and Revised.Markus E. 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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  • Disposition Ascriptions.Simona Aimar - 2018 - 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Modal Virtue Epistemology.Bob Beddor & Carlotta Pavese - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    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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  • Against the Reduction of Modality to Essence.Nathan Wildman - forthcoming - Synthese: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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Dispositions and Ergativity.John Maier - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):381-395.
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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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