Potentiality: Actualism minus naturalism equals platonism

Philosophical Inquiries 1 (8):117-40 (2020)
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Abstract

Vetter (2015) develops a localised theory of modality, based on potentialities of actual objects. Two factors play a key role in its appeal: its commitment to Hardcore Actualism, and to Naturalism. Vetter’s commitment to Naturalism is in part manifested in her adoption of Aristotelian universals. In this paper, we argue that a puzzle concerning the identity of unmanifested potentialities cannot be solved with an Aristotelian conception of properties. After introducing the puzzle, we examine Vetter’s attempt at amending the Aristotelian conception in a way that avoids the puzzle, and conclude that this amended version is no longer to be considered naturalistic. Potentiality theory cannot be both actualist and naturalist. We then argue that, if naturalism is to be abandoned by the actualist, there are good reasons to adopt a Platonist conception of universals, for they offer a number of theoretical advantages and allow us to avoid some of the problems facing Vetter’s theory.

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Matthew Tugby
Durham University

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