New powers for Dispositionalism

Synthese 199:2671-2700 (2021)
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Establishing Dispositionalism as a viable theory of modality requires the successful fulfilment of two tasks: showing that all modal truths can be derived from truths about actual powers, and offering a suitable metaphysics of powers. These two tasks are intertwined: difficulties in one can affect the chances of success in the other. In this paper, I generalise an objection to Dispositionalism by Jessica Leech and argue that the theory in its present form is ill-suited to account for de re truths about merely possible entities. I argue that such difficulty is rooted in a problem in the metaphysics of powers. In particular, I contend that the well-known tension between two key principle of powers ontology, namely Directedness and Independence has received an unsatisfactory solution so far, and that it is this unsatisfactory solution concerning the status of “unmanifested manifestations” that makes it hard for Dispositionalism to account for mere possibilia. I develop a novel account of the status of unmanifested manifestations and an overall metaphysics of powers which allows to better respond to Leech's objection and handle mere possibilia. The central idea of the proposal is that unmanifested manifestations are akin to mere logical existents, and are best characterised as non-essentially non-located entities.

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Giacomo Giannini
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf


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