The Truthmaking Argument Against Dispositionalism

Ratio 28 (3):271-285 (2015)
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According to dispositionalism, de re modality is grounded in the intrinsic natures of dispositional properties. Those properties are able to serve as the ground of de re modal truths, it is said, because they bear a special relation to counterfactual conditionals, one of truthmaking. However, because dispositionalism purports to ground de re modality only on the intrinsic natures of dispositional properties, it had better be the case that they do not play that truthmaking role merely in virtue of their being embedded in some particular, extrinsic causal context. This paper examines a recent argument against dispositionalism that purports to show that the intrinsicality of that relation cannot be maintained, due to the ceteris paribus nature of the counterfactuals that dispositions make-true. When two prominent responses are examined, both are found wanting: at best, they require unjustified special pleading, and at worst, they amount to little more than ad hoc conceptual trickery

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Christopher J. Austin
Durham University


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