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.
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Archival date: 2020-05-20
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