Dispositionalism: Between Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 417)


According to dispositional realism, or dispositionalism, the entities inhabiting our world possess irreducibly dispositional properties – often called ‘powers’ – by means of which they are sources of change. Dispositionalism has become increasingly popular among metaphysicians in the last three decades as it offers a realist account of causation and provides novel avenues for understanding modality, laws of nature, agency, free will and other key concepts in metaphysics. At the same time, dispositionalism is receiving growing interest among philosophers of science. This reflects the substantial role scientific findings play in arguments for dispositionalism which, as a metaphysics of science, aims to elucidate the very foundations of science. In this introductory chapter, I give an overview of the state of the debate and explain the twofold aim of the present collection of essays which is (i) to explore the ontological commitments of dispositionalism and (ii) to discuss these against the background of latest scientific research, by bringing together perspectives from both metaphysics and the philosophy of science. I finally provide a summary of this intellectual journey.


Dispositionalism Powers metaphysics Ontological commitments Philosophy of science Metaphysics of science 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Centre for the Study of Life Sciences (Egenis)University of ExeterExeterUK

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