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Reconsidering Causal PowersHistorical and Conceptual Perspectives$
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Henrik Lagerlund, Benjamin Hill, and Stathis Psillos

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198869528

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198869528.001.0001

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Causal Powers and Structures

Causal Powers and Structures

Chapter:
(p.271) 11 Causal Powers and Structures
Source:
Reconsidering Causal Powers
Author(s):

Brian Ellis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198869528.003.0012

Brian Ellis provides a detailed and systemic overview of his version of dispositional essentialism. Ellis is famous for having developed and defended a mixed ontology for scientific realism. This is a robustly Aristotelian ontology that involves a mix of categorical and essentially dispositional properties inhering as universal in individualized entities. In this contribution, Ellis briefly defends this sort of ontology by arguing that it, or something very much like it, is necessary to provide an account of the system of reality discovered through modern science. It is, moreover, entirely adequate for the job of accounting for the ontology of modern science. He then turns to consider three objections to his ontology. The first is what other contributors will call the ‘directedness problem’, which is the idea that powers are directed at their manifestation in a way analogous to the directedness of intentionality. The second is what other contributors call the ‘intrinsicness problem’, which is the idea that causal powers are intrinsic to or inhering in their subject. The third is what other contributors call the ‘necessity problem’, which is the idea that there is something important and distinctive about metaphysical necessity vis-à-vis logical necessity.

Keywords:   powers, dispositions, cause, dispositional essentialism, ontology

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