Relational Troubles Structuralist Worries for an Epistemology of Powers-Based Modality

Philosophical Quarterly 73 (4):1162-1182 (2022)
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Dispositionalism is the theory of modality that grounds all modal truths in powers: all metaphysically possible and necessary truths are to be explained by pointing to some actual power, or absence thereof. One of the main reasons to endorse dispositionalism is that it promises to deliver an especially desirable epistemology of modality. However, so far this issue has not be fully investigated with the care it is due. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap. We will cast some doubts on whether the dispositionalist really is in a better position to explain our modal knowledge. In fact, we argue that there is a tension between some core tenets of a powers metaphysics and the very features that make dispositionalism the ideal backdrop for a desirable epistemology of modality. We conclude that this leaves dispositionalists who want to deliver the promised epistemology with a hard, currently unfulfilled, task.

Author Profiles

Tom Schoonen
University of Amsterdam
Giacomo Giannini
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf


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