Dispositional Monism and the Circularity Objection
Three basic positions regarding the nature of fundamental properties are: dispositional monism, categorical monism and the mixed view. Dispositional monism apparently involves a regress or circularity, while an unpalatable consequence of categorical monism and the mixed view is that they are committed to quidditism. I discuss Alexander Bird's defence of dispositional monism based on the structuralist approach to identity. I argue that his solution does not help standard dispositional essentialism, as it admits the possibility that two distinct dispositional properties can possess the same stimuli and manifestations. Moreover, Bird's argument can be used to support the mixed view by relieving it of its commitment to quidditism. I briefly analyse an alternative defence of dispositional essentialism based on Leon Horsten's approach to the problem of circularity and impredicativity. I conclude that the best option is to choose Bird's solution but amend the dispositional perspective on properties. According to my proposal, the essences of dispositions are determined not directly by their stimuli and manifestations but by the role each property plays in the structure formed by the stimulus/manifestation relations.
KeywordsDispositional monism Categorical monism Circularity Structuralism Quidditism
This paper contains some of the results of my research conducted in 2008/2009 at the Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, and supported by the Marie Curie Intra-European Grant No PIEF-GA-2008-220301. I am particularly grateful to Alexander Bird for fruitful and stimulating conversations on the subject.
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