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

Are abilities dispositions?

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


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.


Abilities Dispositions Free will new dispositionalism Virtue epistemology 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

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

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