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Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics$
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D. M. Armstrong

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199590612

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590612.001.0001

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Reacting to Dispositionalism

Reacting to Dispositionalism

(p.48) Chapter 6 Reacting to Dispositionalism
Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics

David M. Armstrong

Oxford University Press

A view that is currently popular is to identify properties as being nothing but powers, a position that can be called ‘Dispositionalism’. Causation becomes manifestations of dispositions, and non‐probable manifestations in suitable circumstances are necessitated. Such views are defended by Sydney Shoemaker, Stephen Mumford, and Alexander Bird. Robert Black calls the sort of position held by those who reject powers as ‘Quidditism’, giving universals (or tropes) a categorial nature that plays no executive role. It is argued against this that a purely dispositional account of properties leads to a regress that may not be self‐contradictory but is unbelievable. It seems particularly difficult to give an account of relations as powers. Some theorists, George Molnar and Brian Ellis in particular, give a mixed account, making spatial relations in particular categorical, and so not powers. Perhaps this gets the worst of both worlds.

Keywords:   dispositions, powers, Sydney Shoemaker, Stephen Mumford, Alexander Bird, Robert Black, quidditism, categoricalism

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