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Can dispositional essences ground the laws of nature?


Corry, RL, Can dispositional essences ground the laws of nature?, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 89, (2) pp. 263-275. ISSN 0004-8402 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 Australasian Association of Philosophy.

DOI: doi:10.1080/00048401003660325


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Cartwright, dispositional property, dispositional essences, natural laws, laws of nature
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Metaphysics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Corry, RL (Dr Richard Corry)
ID Code:69660
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Philosophy
Deposited On:2011-05-11
Last Modified:2015-06-24
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