Philosophical Studies

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

Dispositions, conditionals and auspicious circumstances

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Dispositions Conditionals Counterfactuals Finkish Intrinsic Extrinsic 

References

  1. Armstrong, D. M. (1968). A materialist theory of the mind. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong, D. M. (1973). Belief, truth, and knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asher, N. (1995). Commonsense entailment: A conditional logic for some generics. In G. Crocco, L. F. del Cerro, & A. Herzog (Eds.), Conditionals: From philosophy to computer science (pp. 103–146). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  4. Asher, N., & Morreau, M. (1995). What some generic sentences mean. In G. Carlson & J. Pelletier (Eds.), The generic book (pp. 300–338). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bird, A. (1998). Dispositions and antidotes. Philosophical Quarterly, 48, 227–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bird, A. (2007). Nature’s metaphysics: Laws and properties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bonevac, D., Dever, J., & Sosa, D. (2006). The conditional fallacy. Philosophical Review, 115, 273–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boyd, R. (1988). How to be a moral realist. In Sayre. McCord (Ed.), Essays on moral realism (pp. 181–228). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Burge, T. (1979). Individualism and the mental. In P. French, T. Uehling, & H. Wettstein (Eds.), Studies in metaphysics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  10. Choi, S. (2009). The conditional analysis of dispositions and the intrinsic dispositions thesis. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 78, 568–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cross, T. (2005). What is a disposition? Synthese, 144, 321–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dretske, F. (1988). Explaining behavior. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dunn, J. M. (1990). Relevant predication 2: Intrinsic properties and internal relations. Philosophical Studies, 60, 177–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Evans, G. (1973). The causal theory of names. In A.P. Martinich (Ed.), The Philosophy of Language. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fara, M. (2001). Dispositions and their ascriptions. Dissertation, Princeton University, Princeton.Google Scholar
  16. Fara, M. (2005). Dispositions and habituals. Noûs, 39, 43–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fisher, J. (2006). Pragmatic conceptual analysis. Dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson.Google Scholar
  18. Fodor, J. (1990). A theory of content and other essays. Cambridge: MIT/Bradford.Google Scholar
  19. Francescotti, R. (1999). How to define intrinsic properties. Noûs, 33, 590–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gundersen, L. (2002). In defence of the conditional account of dispositions. Synthese, 130, 389–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Horgan, T., & Potrč, M. (2008). Austere realism: Contextual semantics meets minimal ontology. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  22. Jackson, F. (1998). From metaphysics to ethics: A defense of conceptual analysis. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Johnston, M. (1992). How to speak of the colors. Philosophical Studies, 68, 221–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kripke, S. (1972). Naming and necessity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Langton, R., & Lewis, D. (1998). Defining ‘intrinsic’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 58, 333–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lewis, D. (1973). Counterfactuals. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  27. Lewis, D. (1979). Counterfactual dependence and time’s arrow. Noûs, 13, 455–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lewis, D. (1984). Putnam’s paradox. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 62, 221–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lewis, D. (1986). On the plurality of worlds. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  30. Lewis, D. (1997). Finkish dispositions. Philosophical Quarterly, 47, 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Malzkorn, W. (2000). Realism, functionalism and the conditional analysis of dispositions. Philosophical Quarterly, 50, 452–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Martin, C. B. (1994). Dispositions and conditionals. Philosophical Quarterly, 44, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McKitrick, J. (2003). A case for extrinsic dispositions. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 81, 155–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Millikan, R. (1984). Language, thought, and other biological categories. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Molnar, G. (1999). Are dispositions reducible? Philosophical Quarterly, 49, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mumford, S. (1998). Dispositions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Prior, E. (1985). Dispositions. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Prior, E., Pargetter, R., & Jackson, F. (1982). Three theses about dispositions. American Philosophical Quarterly, 19, 251–257.Google Scholar
  39. Putnam, H. (1973). Meaning and reference. In A.P. Martinich (Ed.), The Philosophy of Language (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press (1996).Google Scholar
  40. Reiter, R. (1980). A logic for default reasoning. Artificial Intelligence, 13, 81–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Russell, B. (1905). On denoting. In A. P. Martinich (Ed.), The Philosophy of Language. (3rd ed., pp. 199–207). Oxford: Oxford University Press (1996).Google Scholar
  42. Shoemaker, S. (1980). Causality and properties. In Peter. van Inwagen (Ed.), Time and cause (pp. 109–135). Dordrecht: Reidel.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sider, T. (1996). Intrinsic properties. Philosophical Studies, 83, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith, M., & Stoljar, D. (1998). Global response-dependence and noumenal realism. The Monist, 81, 85–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stalnaker, R. (1968). A theory of conditionals. In Studies in Logical Theory, American Philosophical Quarterly Monograph Series, 2 (pp. 98–112). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  46. Strawson, P.F. (1950). On referring. In A. P. Martinich (Ed.), The Philosophy of Language (3rd ed., pp. 215–230). Oxford: Oxford University Press (1996).Google Scholar
  47. Vallentyne, P. (1997). Intrinsic properties defined. Philosophical Studies, 88, 209–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weatherson, B. (2001). Intrinsic properties and combinatorial principles. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 63, 365–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Witner, G., Butchard, W., & Trogdon, K. (2005). Intrinsicality without naturalness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 70, 326–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yablo, S. (1999). Intrinsicness. Philosophical Topics, 26, 479–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA

Personalised recommendations