Handbook of Potentiality

  • Kristina Engelhard
  • Michael Quante

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Kristina Engelhard
    Pages 1-11
  3. The Concept of Potentiality in the History of Philosophy—Aristotle

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
    2. Anna Marmodoro
      Pages 15-43
    3. Frans A. J. de Haas
      Pages 71-91
  4. The Concept of Potentiality in the History of Philosophy—Medieval Philosophy

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 93-93
    2. Taneli Kukkonen
      Pages 95-121
  5. The Concept of Potentiality in the History of Philosophy—Early Modern Philosophy

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 155-155
    2. Michael-Thomas Liske
      Pages 157-197
    3. Katia Saporiti
      Pages 199-226
  6. The Metaphysics of Potentials

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 227-227
    2. Jennifer McKitrick
      Pages 229-260
    3. Stephen Mumford, Rani Lill Anjum
      Pages 261-278
    4. Barbara Vetter
      Pages 279-301
  7. Potentiality in Specific Fields of Philosophy

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 303-303
    2. Frank Hofmann
      Pages 305-325
    3. Marco Stier
      Pages 327-350
  8. Potentiality in the Sciences

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 351-351
    2. Max Kistler
      Pages 353-374
    3. Paul Needham, Robin Findlay Hendry
      Pages 375-400
    4. Andreas Hüttemann, Marie I. Kaiser
      Pages 401-428
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 429-433

About this book


This volume congregates articles of leading philosophers about potentials and potentiality in all areas of philosophy and the empirical sciences in which they play a relevant role. It is the first encompassing collection of articles on the metaphysics of potentials and potentiality.

Potentials play an important role not only in our everyday understanding of objects, persons and systems but also in the sciences. An example is the potential to become an adult human person. Moreover, the attribution of potentials involves crucial ethical problems. Bioethics makes references to the theoretical concept "potential" without being able to clarify its meaning. However, despite its relevance it has not been made subject of philosophical investigation. Mostly, potentials are regarded as a subspecies of dispositions. Whilst dispositions are a flourishing field of research, potentials as such have not come into focus. Potentials like dispositions are modal properties. But already a first glance at the metaphysics of potentials shows that concerning their ascription potentials are more problematic than dispositions since "potential" means that an entity has the potential to acquire a property in the future. Therefore, potentials involve a time structure of the entities in question that is much more complex than those of dispositions. 

This handbook brings this important concept into focus in its various aspects for the first time. It covers the history of the concept as well as contemporary systematic problems and will be of special interest for philosophers in the fields of general metaphysics, philosophy of science and ethics, especially bioethics. It will also be of interest to scientists and persons concerned with bioethical problems.


Aristotle’s Metaphysics History of Philosophy Classical Arabic Thought Medieval Philosophy Early Modern Philosophy British Empiricism Philosophy of Mind Potentiality in Biology Potentiality in Physics Concept of Potentiality in Chemistry The Metaphysics of Potentials

Editors and affiliations

  • Kristina Engelhard
    • 1
  • Michael Quante
    • 2
  1. 1.Technische Universität DortmundDortmundGermany
  2. 2.Westfälische Wilhelms-UniversitätMünsterGermany

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-94-024-1285-7
  • Online ISBN 978-94-024-1287-1
  • Buy this book on publisher's site