Are abilities dispositions?

Synthese 196 (196):201-220 (2019)
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Abilities are in many ways central to what being an agent means, and they are appealed to in philosophical accounts of a great many different phenomena. It is often assumed that abilities are some kind of dispositional property, but it is rarely made explicit exactly which dispositional properties are our abilities. Two recent debates provide two different answers to that question: the new dispositionalism in the debate about free will, and virtue reliabilism in epistemology. This paper argues that both answers fail as general accounts of abilities, and discusses the ramifications of this result.

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Barbara Vetter
Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin


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