Mental Capabilities

In David Kasmier, David Limbaugh & Barry Smith (eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO), University at Buffalo, NY (2019)
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Abstract

We propose capability as a universal or type intermediate between function and disposition. A capability is, broadly speaking, a disposition that is of a type whose instances can be evaluated on the basis of how well they are realized. A function, on the view we are proposing, is a capability the possession of which is the rationale for the existence of its bearer. To say for example that a water pump has the function to pump water is to say that the pump exists because something was needed that would pump water. A water pump may have many capabilities, including: to be weatherproof, to run without lubricant, to be transportable, and so forth. But its function is to pump water. We focus here on capabilities possessed by humans – such as piano playing or language using – and we explore the relation between capabilities of these sorts and structures in the brain.

Author Profiles

Eric Merrell
State University of New York (SUNY)
David Limbaugh
State University of New York (SUNY)
Barry Smith
University at Buffalo

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