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Multi‐track dispositions

Philosophical Quarterly 63 (251):330-352 (2013)

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  1. Finality Revived: Powers and Intentionality.David S. Oderberg - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2387-2425.
    Proponents of physical intentionality argue that the classic hallmarks of intentionality highlighted by Brentano are also found in purely physical powers. Critics worry that this idea is metaphysically obscure at best, and at worst leads to panpsychism or animism. I examine the debate in detail, finding both confusion and illumination in the physical intentionalist thesis. Analysing a number of the canonical features of intentionality, I show that they all point to one overarching phenomenon of which both the mental and the (...)
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  • Organisms, activity, and being: on the substance of process ontology.Christopher J. Austin - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (2):1-21.
    According to contemporary ‘process ontology’, organisms are best conceptualised as spatio-temporally extended entities whose mereological composition is fundamentally contingent and whose essence consists in changeability. In contrast to the Aristotelian precepts of classical ‘substance ontology’, from the four-dimensional perspective of this framework, the identity of an organism is grounded not in certain collections of privileged properties, or features which it could not fail to possess, but in the succession of diachronic relations by which it persists, or ‘perdures’ as one entity (...)
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  • The Two Natures of the Incarnate Christ and the Bearer Question.Mihretu P. Guta - 2019 - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology 3 (1):113-143.
    The Chalcedonian Definition states that the incarnate Christ is both fully human and fully divine. But spelling out what the Chalcedonian Definition entails continues to be a subject of intense controversy among philosophers and theologians alike. One of these controversies concerns what I call the problem of the bearer question. At the heart of this question lies whether or not the two natures of Christ require two distinct bearers. In section I, I will explain the problem of the bearer question (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Agency and Practical Abilities.Will Small - 2017 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 80:235-264.
    Though everyday life accords a great deal of significance to practical abilities—such as the ability to walk, to speak French, to play the piano—philosophers of action pay surprisingly little attention to them. By contrast, abilities are discussed in various other philosophical projects. From these discussions, a partial theory of abilities emerges. If the partial theory—which is at best adequate only to a few examples of practical abilities—were correct, then philosophers of action would be right to ignore practical abilities, because they (...)
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  • Basic Action and Practical Knowledge.Will Small - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    It is a commonplace in philosophy of action that there is and must be teleologically basic action: something done on an occasion without doing it by means of doing anything else. It is widely believed that basic actions are exercises of skill. As the source of the need for basic action is the structure of practical reasoning, this yields a conception of skill and practical reasoning as complementary but mutually exclusive. On this view, practical reasoning and complex intentional action depend (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Special Issue: The Son of God.Matthew Owen & Fred Sanders - 2019 - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology.
    For as long as the Christian church has been working out its understanding of the second person of the Trinity, it has employed analytic philosophical reflection to sharpen theological comprehension. In recent times, there has been a rekindled appreciation for the employment of analytic reflection in the service of theology. Analytic theology has established itself as a way of doing theology that employs analytic philosophical analysis in the project of faith in divinely revealed truths seeking understanding. In this issue, the (...)
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  • The Identity Theory of Powers Revised.Joaquim Giannotti - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
    Dispositionality and qualitativity are key notions to describe the world that we inhabit. Dispositionality is a matter of what a thing is disposed to do in certain circumstances. Qualitativity is a matter of how a thing is like. According to the Identity Theory of powers, every fundamental property is at once dispositional and qualitative, or a powerful quality. Canonically, the Identity Theory holds a contentious identity claim between a property’s dispositionality and its qualitativity. In the literature, this view faces a (...)
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  • A Biologically Informed Hylomorphism.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 185-210.
    Although contemporary metaphysics has recently undergone a neo-Aristotelian revival wherein dispositions, or capacities are now commonplace in empirically grounded ontologies, being routinely utilised in theories of causality and modality, a central Aristotelian concept has yet to be given serious attention – the doctrine of hylomorphism. The reason for this is clear: while the Aristotelian ontological distinction between actuality and potentiality has proven to be a fruitful conceptual framework with which to model the operation of the natural world, the distinction between (...)
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  • Free Will and Abilities to Act.Randolph Clarke - forthcoming - In Streit um die Freiheit: Philosophische und theologische Beiträge. Paderborn: Schoeningh/Brill.
    This paper examines the view of abilities to act advanced by Kadri Vihvelin in Causes, Laws, and Free Will. Vihvelin argues that (i) abilities of an important kind are “structurally” like dispositions such as fragility; (ii) ascriptions of dispositions can be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals; (iii) ascriptions of abilities of the kind in question can be analyzed similarly; and (iv) we have the free will we think we have by having abilities of this kind and being in circumstances (...)
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  • Structural Powers and the Homeodynamic Unity of Organisms.Christopher J. Austin & Anna Marmodoro - 2017 - In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 169-184.
    Although they are continually compositionally reconstituted and reconfigured, organisms nonetheless persist as ontologically unified beings over time – but in virtue of what? A common answer is: in virtue of their continued possession of the capacity for morphological invariance which persists through, and in spite of, their mereological alteration. While we acknowledge that organisms‟ capacity for the “stability of form” – homeostasis - is an important aspect of their diachronic unity, we argue that this capacity is derived from, and grounded (...)
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  • The Dispositional Genome: Primus Inter Pares.Christopher J. Austin - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (2):227-246.
    According to the proponents of Developmental Systems Theory and the Causal Parity Thesis, the privileging of the genome as “first among equals” with respect to the development of phenotypic traits is more a reflection of our own heuristic prejudice than of ontology - the underlying causal structures responsible for that specified development no more single out the genome as primary than they do other broadly “environmental” factors. Parting with the methodology of the popular responses to the Thesis, this paper offers (...)
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  • Dispositional Properties in Evo-Devo.Christopher J. Austin & Laura Nuño de la Rosa - 2018 - In Laura Nuño de la Rosa & G. Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
    In identifying intrinsic molecular chance and extrinsic adaptive pressures as the only causally relevant factors in the process of evolution, the theoretical perspective of the Modern Synthesis had a major impact on the perceived tenability of an ontology of dispositional properties. However, since the late 1970s, an increasing number of evolutionary biologists have challenged the descriptive and explanatory adequacy of this “chance alone, extrinsic only” understanding of evolutionary change. Because morphological studies of homology, convergence, and teratology have revealed a space (...)
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  • Ryle on the Explanatory Role of Knowledge How.Will Small - 2017 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 5 (5).
    Contemporary discussions of knowledge how typically focus on the question whether or not knowing how to do ϕ consists in propositional knowledge, and divide the field between intellectualists and anti-intellectualists. This way of framing the issue is said to derive from Gilbert Ryle. I argue that this is a misreading of Ryle, whose primary interest in discussing knowledge how was not epistemological but rather action-theoretical, whose argument against intellectualism has for this reason been misunderstood and underestimated, and whose positive view (...)
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  • Aristotelian Essentialism: Essence in the Age of Evolution.Christopher 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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  • Evo-Devo: A Science of Dispositions.Christopher Austin - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (2):373-389.
    Evolutionary developmental biology represents a paradigm shift in the understanding of the ontogenesis and evolutionary progression of the denizens of the natural world. Given the empirical successes of the evo-devo framework, and its now widespread acceptance, a timely and important task for the philosophy of biology is to critically discern the ontological commitments of that framework and assess whether and to what extent our current metaphysical models are able to accommodate them. In this paper, I argue that one particular model (...)
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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 Dispositional Nature of Phenomenal Properties.Simone Gozzano - 2018 - Topoi:1-11.
    According to non-reductive physicalism, mental properties of the phenomenal sort are essentially different from physical properties, and cannot be reduced to them. This being a quarrel about properties, I draw on the categorical / dispositional distinction to discuss this non-reductive claim. Typically, non-reductionism entails a categorical view of phenomenal properties. Contrary to this, I will argue that phenomenal properties, usually characterized by what it is like to have them, are mainly the manifestation of dispositional properties. This paper is thus divided (...)
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  • Natural‐Kind Essentialism, Substance Ontology, and the Unity Problem: Two Dispositionalist Solutions.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (4):609-626.
    What accounts for the linkage of seemingly diverse and inherently separable fundamental properties, such that they are regarded as properties of a single thing? Multiple answers to this question have been put forward in both the historical and current literature, especially from competing substance ontologies and competing theories concerning the metaphysics of natural kinds. Here I lay out and critically assess two ways in which dispositionalism might contribute to the discussion.
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  • Lowe's Unorthodox Dispositionalism.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - Res Philosophica 93 (1):79-101.
    The deep differences between E. J. Lowe’s ontology of dispositions and that maintained by other prominent dispositionalists have received relatively little attention in the existing literature on his work. Here I lay out some of these differences, along the way attempting to clarify whether Lowe’s ontology can properly be termed ‘dispositionalist.’ I then argue that the unique features of his ontology allow it to avoid some well-known worries facing standard dispositionalism, while at the same time opening his view to novel (...)
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  • Emergent Powers.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2018 - Topoi:1-14.
    I shall introduce at the beginning of the paper a characterization of strong ontological emergence. According to it, roughly, something strongly emerges from some other thing iff the former depends in some respect on the latter and it some independent of it in some other respect. Afterwards, I shall present my own formulation of strong emergence, which is based on the distinction between the mere possession and the activation of a causal power. Causal powers are the entities to be primarily (...)
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  • Powerful Qualities and Pure Powers.Henry Taylor - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1423-1440.
    Many think that properties are powers. However, whilst some claim that properties are pure powers, others claim that properties are powerful qualities. In this paper, I argue that the canonical formulation of the powerful qualities view is no different from the pure powers view. Contrary to appearances, the two positions accept the same view of properties. Thus, the debate between them rests on an illusion. I draw out some consequences of this surprising result for issues over property individuation. Along the (...)
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  • Emergence, Reduction and the Identity and Individuation of Powers.Alexander Daniel Carruth - forthcoming - Topoi:1-10.
    One recently popular way to characterise strong emergence is to say that emergent entities possess novel causal powers. However, there is little agreement concerning the nature of powers. One controversy involves whether powers are single- or multi-track; that is, whether each power has only one manifestation type, or whether a single power can be directed towards a number of distinct manifestations. Another concerns how powers operate: whether a lone power manifests when triggered by the presence of a suitable stimulus, or (...)
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  • Dispositions.Sungho Choi - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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