A plenitude of powers

Synthese 198 (Suppl 6):1365-1385 (2018)
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Abstract

Dispositionalism about modality is the view that metaphysical modality is a matter of the dispositions possessed by actual objects. In a recent paper, David Yates has raised an important worry about the formal adequacy of dispositionalism. This paper responds to Yates’s worry by developing a reply that Yates discusses briefly but dismisses as ad hoc: an appeal to a ’plenitude of powers’ including such powers as the necessarily always manifested power for 2+2\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$$2+2$$\end{document} to be 4. I argue that the reply is not ad hoc at all, by defending the metaphysics of dispositions that should underly it. I then argue, first, that a proper understanding of dispositions’ degrees provides us with an argument for such necessarily always manifested dispositions; second, that all the natural attempts to block that argument can be resisted without being ad hoc; and third, that pragmatic considerations explain our intuitive resistance to the ascription of necessarily always manifested dispositions. Dispositionalism can be formally adequate after all.

Author's Profile

Barbara Vetter
Freie Universität Berlin

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