Philosophical Studies

, Volume 164, Issue 2, pp 443–464 | Cite as

Dispositions, conditionals and auspicious circumstances



A number of authors have suggested that a conditional analysis of dispositions must take roughly the following form:

Thing X is disposed to produce response R to stimulus S just in case, if X were exposed to S and surrounding circumstances were auspicious, then X would produce R.

The great challenge is cashing out the relevant notion of ‘auspicious circumstances’. I give a general argument which entails that all existing conditional analyses fail, and that there is no satisfactory way to define ‘auspicious circumstances’ just in terms of S, R, and X. Instead, I argue that the auspicious circumstances C for the manifestation of a disposition constitute a third irreducible element of that disposition, and that to pick out (or to ‘individuate’) that disposition one must specify C along with S and R. This enables a new conditional analysis of dispositions that gives intuitively satisfying answers in cases that pose problems for other approaches.


Dispositions Conditionals Counterfactuals Finkish Intrinsic Extrinsic 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA

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