Advertisement

Synthese

, Volume 196, Issue 1, pp 201–220 | Cite as

Are abilities dispositions?

  • Barbara VetterEmail author
S.I.: Real Possibilities, Indeterminism and Free Will

Abstract

Abilities are in many ways central to what being an agent means, and they are appealed to in philosophical accounts of a great many different phenomena. It is often assumed that abilities are some kind of dispositional property, but it is rarely made explicit exactly which dispositional properties are our abilities. Two recent debates provide two different answers to that question: the new dispositionalism in the debate about free will, and virtue reliabilism in epistemology. This paper argues that both answers fail as general accounts of abilities, and discusses the ramifications of this result.

Keywords

Abilities Dispositions Free will new dispositionalism Virtue epistemology 

References

  1. Austin, J. L. (1961). Ifs and Cans. In J. O. Urmson & G. Warnock (Eds.), Philosophical papers (pp. 205–232). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bratman, M. (1984). Two faces of intention. Philosophical Review 93:375–405; reprinted in Mele (Ed.) (1997), The philosophy of action (pp. 178–203) OUP.Google Scholar
  3. Carter, J. A., Jarvis, B., & Rubin, K. (2013). Knowledge and the value of cognitive ability. Synthese, 190, 3715–3729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clarke, R. (2009). Dispositions, abilities to act, and free will: The new dispositionalism. Mind, 118, 323–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clarke, R. (2010). Skilled activity and the causal theory of action. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 80, 523–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clarke, R. (2015). Abilities to act. Philosophy Compass, 10:893/904.Google Scholar
  7. Cleveland, T. (1997). Trying without willing. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  8. Fara, M. (2005). Dispositions and habituals. Noûs, 39, 43–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fara, M. (2008). Masked abilities and compatibilism. Mind, 117, 843–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Greco, J. (2007). The nature of ability and the purpose of knowledge. Philosophical Issues, 17, 57–69.Google Scholar
  11. Greco, J. (2010). Achieving knowledge, a virtue-theoretic account of epistemic normativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Groff, R. (2013). Whose powers? Which agency? In R. Groff & J. Greco (Eds.), Powers and capacities in philosophy: The new Aristotelianism (pp. 207–227). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoffman, J., & Rosenkrantz, G. (2012). Omnipotence. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, Spring 2012 edition. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2012/entries/omnipotence/.
  14. Hornsby, J. (1980). Actions. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  15. Hyman, J. (1999). How knowledge works. The Philosophical Quarterly, 49, 433–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hyman, J. (2010). The road to Larissa. Ratio, 23, 393–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jaster, R. (2016). Agentive abilities. PhD Thesis, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.Google Scholar
  18. Kenny, A. (2010). Concepts, brains, and behaviour. Grazer Philosophische Studien, 81, 105–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lehrer, K. (1968). Cans without Ifs. Analysis, 29, 29–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lewis, D. (1990). What experience teaches. In Papers in metaphysics and epistemology (pp. 262–290). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Lewis, D. (1997). Finkish dispositions. Philosophical Quarterly, 47, 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Löwenstein, D. (forthcoming). The concept of competence. A Rylean responsibilist account of know-how. Frankfurt a.M.: Klostermann.Google Scholar
  23. Maier, J. (2015). The agentive modalities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 90, 113–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mayr, E. (2011). Understanding human agency. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mele, A. R. (1997). Agency and mental action. Philosophical Perspectives, 11, 231–249.Google Scholar
  26. Millikan, R. (2000). On clear and confused ideas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moore, G. E. (1911). Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. O’Shaughnessy, B. (1980). The will (2 volumes). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Riggs, W. (2007). Why epistemologists are so down on their luck. Synthese, 158, 329–344 [quoted from Greco and Turri (Eds.) 2012].Google Scholar
  30. Ryle, G. (1949). The concept of mind. London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  31. Scarantino, A. (2003). Affordances explained. Philosophy of Science, 70, 949–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Searle, J. (1983). Intentionality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Smith, M. (2003). Rational capacities, or: How to distinguish recklessness, weakness, and compulsion. In B. Stroud & C. Tappolet (Eds.), Weakness of will and practical irrationality (pp. 17–38). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sosa, E. (2007). Apt belief and reflective knowledge. Volume I: A virtue epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sosa, E. (2009). Knowing full well: The normativity of beliefs as performances. Philosophical Studies, 142, 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sosa, E. (2010). How competence matters in epistemology. Philosophical Perspectives, 24, 465–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sosa, E. (2015). Judgment and agency. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Steward, H. (2012). A metaphysics for freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stueber, K. (2006). Rediscovering empathy: Agency, folk psychology, and the human sciences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. van Inwagen, P. (1975). The incompatibility of free will and determinism. Philosophical Studies, 27, 185–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vetter, B. (2013). Multi-track dispositions. The Philosophical Quarterly, 63, 330–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vetter, B. (2014). Dispositions without conditionals. Mind, 123, 129–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vihvelin, K. (2004). Free will demystified: A dispositionalist account. Philosophical Topics, 32, 427–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vihvelin, K. (2013). Causes, laws, and free will. Why determinism doesn’t matter. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Whittle, A. (2010). Dispositional abilities. Philosophers’ Imprint, 10, 1–23.Google Scholar
  46. Yablo, S. (1993). Is conceivability a guide to possibility? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 53, 1–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Lehrstuhl für Theoretische PhilosophieErlangenGermany

Personalised recommendations