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Can dispositional essences ground the laws of nature?
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-17, 06:07 authored by Richard CorryRichard Corry
A dispositional property is a tendency, or potency, to manifest some characteristic behaviour in some appropriate context. The mainstream view in the twentieth century was that such properties are to be explained in terms of more fundamental non-dispositional properties, together with the laws of nature. In the last few decades however, a rival view has become popular, according to which some properties are essentially dispositional in nature, and the laws of nature are to be explained in terms of these fundamental dispositions. The supposed ability of fundamental dispositions to ground natural laws is one of the most attractive features of the dispositional essentialist position. In this paper, however, I cast doubt on the ability of dispositional essences to ground the laws of nature. In particular I argue that the dispositional essentialist position is not able to coherently respond - sympathetically or otherwise - to Cartwright's challenge that there are no true general laws of nature.
Publication titleAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
Place of publicationGreat Clarendon St, Oxford, England, Ox2 6Dp
Rights statementCopyright 2011 Australasian Association of Philosophy.