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Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity

Mind 87 (346):305-306 (1978)

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  1. Introduction for Synthese Special Issue Causation in the Metaphysics of Science: Natural Kinds.Andrew McFarland - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1375-1378.
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  • Anscombe and Intentional Agency Incompatibilism.Erasmus Mayr - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-23.
    In “Causality and Determination”, Anscombe stressed that, in her view, physical determinism and free action were incompatible. As the relevant passage suggests, her espousal of incompatibilism was not merely due to specific features of human ‘ethical’ freedom, but due to general features of agency, intentionality, and voluntariness. For Anscombe went on to tentatively suggest that lack of physical determination was required for the intentional conduct of animals we would not classify as ‚free‘, too. In this paper, I examine three different (...)
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  • An Evolutionary Approach to Emergence and Social Causation.Nuno Martins - 2011 - Journal of Critical Realism 10 (2):192-218.
    Rom Harré criticizes critical realism for ascribing causal powers to social structures, arguing that it is human individuals, and not social structures, that possess causal powers, and that a false conception of structural causation undermines the emancipatory potential of critical realism. I argue that an interpretation of the category of process as the spatio-temporalization of the category of structure, which underpins much evolutionary theory, provides the conceptual tools to explain how the critical realist transformational model of social activity can escape (...)
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  • Do Categorical Properties Confer Dispositions on Their Bearers?Vassilis Livanios - 2018 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):61-82.
    Categorical Monism (that is, the view that all fundamental natural properties are purely categorical) has recently been challenged by a number of philosophers. In this paper, I examine a challenge which can be based on Gabriele Contessa’s [10] defence of the view that only powers can confer dispositions. In his paper Contessa argues against what he calls the Nomic Theory of Disposition Conferral (NTDC). According to NTDC, in each world in which they exist, (categorical) properties confer specific dispositions on their (...)
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  • Fallibilism and Ontology in Tuukka Kaidesoja’s Critical Realist Social Ontology.Daniel Little - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2):349-358.
    This article addresses Tuukka Kaidesoja’s critique of the philosophical presuppositions of Roy Bhaskar’s theories of critical realism. The article supports Kaidesoja’s naturalistic approach to the philosophy of the social sciences, including the field of social ontology. The article discusses the specific topics of fallibilism, emergence, and causal powers. I conclude that Kaidesoja’s book is a valuable contribution to current debates over critical realism.
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  • Précis of Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology.Tuukka Kaidesoja - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2):321–326.
    This paper introduces and contextualizes my book Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology (London: Routledge, 2013).
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  • Overcoming the Biases of Microfoundationalism: Social Mechanisms and Collective Agents.Tuukka Kaidesoja - 2013 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (3):301-322.
    The article makes four interrelated claims: (1) The mechanism approach to social explanation does not presuppose a commitment to the individual-level microfoundationalism. (2) The microfoundationalist requirement that explanatory social mechanisms should always consists of interacting individuals has given rise to problematic methodological biases in social research. (3) It is possible to specify a number of plausible candidates for social macro-mechanisms where interacting collective agents (e.g. formal organizations) form the core actors. (4) The distributed cognition perspective combined with organization studies could (...)
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  • Elaborating Naturalized Critical Realism: Response to Ruth Groff, Dave Elder-Vass, Daniel Little and Petri Ylikoski.Tuukka Kaidesoja - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2):359-375.
    This paper is a reply to the discussions of Ruth Groff, Dave Elder-Vass, Daniel Little, and Petri Ylikoski of Tuukka Kaidesoja : Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology.
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  • Building the Case for Paradigmatic Reflexivity in Strategic Management Research Using Entrepreneurial Opportunity as an Exemplar.Rajesh Jain & Apoorv Khare - 2022 - Philosophy of Management 21 (4):545-568.
    This article casts in high relief the paradigmatic rigidity in strategy research by highlighting the underlying philosophical assumptions (ontological, epistemological, methodological), their advantages, and their limitations. The article discusses four philosophical paradigms that underpin strategy research. While positivism and constructivism are the dominant paradigms, critical realism and pragmatism as relevant philosophical perspectives are also discussed. Using entrepreneurial opportunity as an exemplar, the article explains how philosophical assumptions inform the researchers’ worldview and guide research within a paradigm. The article contends that (...)
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  • The Evolution of Ecosystem Phenotypes.Sébastien Ibanez - 2020 - Biological Theory 15 (2):91-106.
    Evolution by natural selection has been extended to several supraorganismic levels, but whether it can apply to ecosystems remains controversial on two main counts. First, local ecosystems are loosely individuated, so that it is unclear how they manifest heredity and fitness. Second, even if they did, the meta-ecosystem formed by this population of local ecosystems will also suffer from a very low degree of cohesion, which will jeopardize any ENS. We suggest a way to overcome both issues, focusing on ecosystem (...)
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  • Varieties of dispositional essentialism about natural laws.Salim Hirèche - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-28.
    An important task for metaphysicians and philosophers of science is to account for laws of nature – in particular, how they distinguish themselves from ‘mere’ regularities, and the modal force they are endowed with, ‘natural necessity’. Dispositional essentialism about laws is roughly the view that laws distinguish themselves by being grounded in the essences of natural entities. This paper does not primarily concern how essentialism compares to its main rivals – Humeanism and Armstrongeanism. Rather, it distinguishes and comparatively assesses various (...)
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  • Causal Necessitarianism and the Monotonicity Objection.Salim Hirèche - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2597-2627.
    Do causes necessitate their effects? Causal necessitarianism is the view that they do. One major objection—the “monotonicity objection”—runs roughly as follows. For many particular causal relations, we can easily find a possible “blocker”—an additional causal factor that, had it also been there, would have prevented the cause from producing its effect. However—the objection goes on—, if the cause really necessitated its effect in the first place, it would have produced it anyway—despite the blocker. Thus, CN must be false. Though different (...)
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  • Kant on Causal Laws and Powers.Tobias Henschen - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 48:20-29.
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  • Active Powers and Passive Powers – Do Causal Interactions Require Both?Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (5):1603-1612.
    Many powers metaphysicians postulate both active and passive powers, understood as distinct kinds of intrinsic causal properties of objects. I argue that the category of passive power is superfluous. I also offer a diagnosis of how philosophers are misled to postulate passive powers.
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  • Tuukka Kaidesoja on Critical Realist Transcendental Realism.Ruth Groff - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2):341-348.
    I argue that critical realists think pretty much what Tukka Kaidesoja says that he himself thinks, but also that Kaidesoja’s objections to the views that he attributes to critical realists are not persuasive.
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  • Sublating the Free Will Problematic: Powers, Agency and Causal Determination.Ruth Groff - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):179-200.
    I argue that realism about causal powers sublates the passivist, Humean-inflected free will problematic. In the first part of the paper I show that adopting what I call ‘powers-non-determinism’ reconfigures the conceptual terrain with respect to the causation component of the contemporary problematic. In part two I show how adopting ‘powers-non-determinism’ significantly alters the nature of the discussion with respect to the agency component of the problematic. In part three I compare ‘powers-non-determinism’ to an otherwise- Humean agent causal position.
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  • On the Myth of Metaphysical Neutrality: Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize Lecture 2015.Ruth Porter Groff - 2016 - Journal of Critical Realism 15 (4):409-418.
    In this lecture I argue that it is not possible for social scientists or others engaged in making causal claims about the world to be neutral with respect to the question of what causation is. One need not be in possession of a full-blown account, but one must know whether or not, in saying that something is the cause of a given outcome, one intends to say that it has actively produced or generated that outcome. Following Brian Ellis, I refer (...)
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  • Conceptualizing Causal Powers: Activity, Capacity, Essence, Necessitation.Ruth Porter Groff - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):9881-9896.
    Talk of powers is muddled. Building upon Powers and capacities in philosophy: The new aristotelianism, Routledge, London, 2012a, pp 207–227), I disambiguate four senses of the term: powers construed as activity, as capacity/potentiality, as essence and as necessity, respectively, in an attempt to clarify what it is that realists about causal powers take themselves to be realists about.
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  • How Causal Knowledge Simplifies Decision-Making.Rocio Garcia-Retamero & Ulrich Hoffrage - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (3):365-380.
    Making decisions can be hard, but it can also be facilitated. Simple heuristics are fast and frugal but nevertheless fairly accurate decision rules that people can use to compensate for their limitations in computational capacity, time, and knowledge when they make decisions [Gigerenzer, G., Todd, P. M., & the ABC Research Group (1999). Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. New York: Oxford University Press.]. These heuristics are effective to the extent that they can exploit the structure of information in the (...)
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  • What's Real in Political Philosophy|[Quest]|.Elizabeth Frazer - 2010 - Contemporary Political Theory 9 (4):490.
  • Powers and Tendencies Revisited.Steve Fleetwood - 2011 - Journal of Critical Realism 10 (1):80-99.
    While powers and tendencies are among the most fundamen- tal concepts of critical realism, there are several problems with these concepts that have been ignored, avoided or glossed. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to tease out these problems and provide clarification and consistency where possible. In the first section of the paper I sketch the existing critical realist conceptualization of tendencies by identifying eight distinct moments in a causal chain, denoted tendency1 to tendency8. In section two I ask: (...)
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  • At the Borders of Medical Reasoning: Aetiological and Ontological Challenges of Medically Unexplained Symptoms.Thor Eirik Eriksen, Roger Kerry, Stephen Mumford, Svein Anders Noer Lie & Rani Lill Anjum - 2013 - Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 8:11.
    Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) remain recalcitrant to the medical profession, proving less suitable for homogenic treatment with respect to their aetiology, taxonomy and diagnosis. While the majority of existing medical research methods are designed for large scale population data and sufficiently homogenous groups, MUS are characterised by their heterogenic and complex nature. As a result, MUS seem to resist medical scrutiny in a way that other conditions do not. This paper approaches the problem of MUS from a philosophical point of (...)
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  • Agency and Causal Explanation in Economics. Virtues and Economics, Vol 5.Peter Róna & László Zsolnai (eds.) - 2020 - Springer.
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  • Pragmatism, Critical Realism and the Study of Value.Dave Elder-Vass - 2022 - Journal of Critical Realism 21 (3):261-287.
    This paper examines the relationship between pragmatism and critical realism, first as alternative philosophies for the social sciences in general, and second, as an illustration, in the social stu...
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  • Disassembling Actor-Network Theory.Dave Elder-Vass - 2015 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (1):100-121.
    One of the strikingly iconoclastic features of actor-network theory is its juxtaposition of the claim to be a realist perspective with denials that supposedly natural phenomena existed before scientists “made them up.” This paper explains and criticizes such arguments in the work of Bruno Latour. By combining referent and reference in the concept of assemblages, Latour provides a superficially viable way to reconcile these apparently incompatible claims. This paper will argue, however, that this conflation of referent and reference leads Latour’s (...)
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  • Regularity Theories Disconfirmed: A Revamped Argument and a Wager.Patrick Cronin - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4913-4933.
    Regularity theories of causation assert that causal or nomic notions are to be reduced into “mere” frequencies of particular, non-nomic, co-located qualities and matters of fact. In this essay, I present a critical exploration of Armstrong and Strawson’s explanatory arguments against regularity theories. The shortcomings of these older arguments for nomic realism are identified and a revamped version which is immune to such problems is outlined and defended. I argue that anti-realism suffers substantial disconfirmation due to its comparative inability to (...)
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  • Tropes, Unmanifested Dispositions and Powerful Qualities.Ashley Coates - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (5):2143-2160.
    According to a well-known argument, originally due to David Armstrong, powers theory is objectionable, as it leads to a ‘Meinongian’ ontology on which some entities are real but do not actually exist. I argue here that the right conclusion to draw from this argument has thus far not been identified and that doing so has significant implications for powers theory. Specifically, I argue that the key consequence of the argument is that it provides substantial grounds for trope powers theorists, but (...)
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  • World Enough and Form: Why Cosmology Needs Hylomorphism.John G. Brungardt - 2019 - Synthese (Suppl 11):1-33.
    This essay proposes a comprehensive blueprint for the hylomorphic foundations of cosmology. The key philosophical explananda in cosmology are those dealing with global processes and structures, the regularity of global regularities, and the existence of the global as such. The possibility of elucidating these using alternatives to hylomorphism is outlined and difficulties with these alternatives are raised. Hylomorphism, by contrast, provides a sound philosophical ground for cosmology insofar as it leads to notions of cosmic essence, the unity of complex essences, (...)
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  • Agent Causation as a Solution to the Problem of Action.Michael Brent - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (5):656-673.
    My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most theories of (...)
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  • The World as One of a Kind: Natural Necessity and Laws of Nature.John Bigelow, Brian Ellis & Caroline Lierse - 1992 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (3):371-388.
  • A Role for Abstractionism in a Direct Realist Foundationalism.Benjamin Bayer - 2011 - Synthese 180 (3):357-389.
    Both traditional and naturalistic epistemologists have long assumed that the examination of human psychology has no relevance to the prescriptive goal of traditional epistemology, that of providing first-person guidance in determining the truth. Contrary to both, I apply insights about the psychology of human perception and concept-formation to a very traditional epistemological project: the foundationalist approach to the epistemic regress problem. I argue that direct realism about perception can help solve the regress problem and support a foundationalist account of justification, (...)
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  • No Time for Powers.Marius Backmann - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (9-10):979-1007.
    ABSTRACTIn this paper, I will investigate the compatibility of different metaphysics of time with the powers view. At first sight, it seems natural to combine some sort of powers ontology with a dy...
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  • Causal and Constitutive Explanation Compared.Petri Ylikoski - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):277-297.
    This article compares causal and constitutive explanation. While scientific inquiry usually addresses both causal and constitutive questions, making the distinction is crucial for a detailed understanding of scientific questions and their interrelations. These explanations have different kinds of explananda and they track different sorts of dependencies. Constitutive explanations do not address events or behaviors, but causal capacities. While there are some interesting relations between building and causal manipulation, causation and constitution are not to be confused. Constitution is a synchronous and (...)
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  • Mechanistic Causation and Constraints: Perspectival Parts and Powers, Non-Perspectival Modal Patterns.Jason Winning - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4):1385-1409.
    Any successful account of the metaphysics of mechanistic causation must satisfy at least five key desiderata. In this article, I lay out these five desiderata and explain why existing accounts of the metaphysics of mechanistic causation fail to satisfy them. I then present an alternative account that does satisfy the five desiderata. According to this alternative account, we must resort to a type of ontological entity that is new to metaphysics, but not to science: constraints. In this article, I explain (...)
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  • Dispositions and the Argument From Science.Neil E. Williams - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):71 - 90.
    Central to the debate between Humean and anti-Humean metaphysics is the question of whether dispositions can exist in the absence of categorical properties that ground them (that is, where the causal burden is shifted on to categorical properties on which the dispositions would therefore supervene). Dispositional essentialists claim that they can; categoricalists reject the possibility of such ?baseless? dispositions, requiring that all dispositions must ultimately have categorical bases. One popular argument, recently dubbed the ?Argument from Science?, has appeared in one (...)
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  • Theorizing the Mechanisms of Conceptual and Semiotic Space.Colin Wight - 2004 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (2):283-299.
    In this piece the author takes issue with Mario Bunge’s claims that conceptual and semiotic systems have "compositions, environments and structures, but no mechanisms." Structures, according to Bunge, can never be mechanisms in conceptual and semiotic systems. Contra this the author argues that in social systems, social structures (which are concept-dependent and reproduced and/or transformed, at least in part, semiotically), can be mechanisms in the sense that such structures are one of the processes in a concrete system that makes itwhat (...)
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  • The Essences of Fundamental Properties.Jennifer Wang - 2019 - Metaphysics 2 (1):40-54.
    There is a puzzle concerning the essences of fundamental entities that arises from considerations about essence, on one hand, and fundamentality, on the other. The Essence-Dependence Link (EDL) says that if x figures in the essence of y, then y is dependent upon x. EDL is prima facie plausible in many cases, especially those involving derivative entities. But consider the property negative charge. A negatively charged object exhibits certain behaviors that a positively charged object does not: it moves away from (...)
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  • Analytical Sociology: A Bungean Appreciation.Poe Yu-ze Wan - 2012 - Science & Education 21 (10):1545-1565.
  • Approaches to Critical Realism: Bhaskar and Lonergan.Timothy Walker - 2017 - Journal of Critical Realism 16 (2):111-127.
    ABSTRACTThe thought of Bernard Lonergan remains relatively unknown among those in the tradition of critical realism associated with Roy Bhaskar. In this paper, I argue that Lonergan’s approach to philosophical questions is both deeply consonant with the thought of Bhaskar and complementary to it. Following a brief overview of different approaches to critical realism, Lonergan’s epistemology is outlined, and parallels drawn with the thought of Bhaskar. The congruence of Lonergan’s philosophy with modern science and its openness to the transcendent are (...)
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  • Elder-Vass on the Causal Power of Social Structures.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2014 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 44 (6):774-791.
    In this review essay, I examine the central tenets of sociologist Dave Elder-Vass’s recent contribution to social ontology, as put forth in his book The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency. Elder-Vass takes issue with ontological individualists and maintains that social structures exist and have causal powers in their own right. I argue that he fails to establish his main theses: he shows neither that social structures have causal powers “in their own right” (in any sense of (...)
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  • Causally Redundant Social Objects: Rejoinder to Elder-Vass.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2014 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 44 (6):798-809.
    In Elder-Vass’s response to my critical discussion of his social ontology, it is maintained (1) that a social object is not identical with but is merely composed of its suitably interrelated parts, (2) that a social object is necessarily indistinguishable in terms of its causal capacities from its interrelated parts, and (3) that ontological individualism lacks an adequate ontological justification. In this reply, I argue that in view of (1) the so-called redescription principle defended by Elder-Vass ought to be reformulated (...)
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  • Nominalist Dispositional Essentialism.Lisa Vogt - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2).
    Dispositional Essentialism, as commonly conceived, consists in the claims that at least some of the fundamental properties essentially confer certain causal-nomological roles on their bearers, and that these properties give rise to the natural modalities. As such, the view is generally taken to be committed to a realist conception of properties as either universals or tropes, and to be thus incompatible with nominalism as understood in the strict sense. Pace this common assumption of the ontological import of Dispositional Essentialism, the (...)
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  • Spinoza's Essentialist Model of Causation.Valtteri Viljanen - 2008 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):412 – 437.
    Spinoza is most often seen as a stern advocate of mechanistic efficient causation, but examining his philosophy in relation to the Aristotelian tradition reveals this view to be misleading: some key passages of the Ethics resemble so much what Surez writes about emanation that it is most natural to situate Spinoza's theory of causation not in the context of the mechanical sciences but in that of a late scholastic doctrine of the emanative causality of the formal cause; as taking a (...)
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  • Natural Kinds and Dispositions: A Causal Analysis.Robert van Rooij & Katrin Schulz - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 12):3059-3084.
    Objects have dispositions. Dispositions are normally analyzed by providing a meaning to disposition ascriptions like ‘This piece of salt is soluble’. Philosophers like Carnap, Goodman, Quine, Lewis and many others have proposed analyses of such disposition ascriptions. In this paper we will argue with Quine that the proper analysis of ascriptions of the form ‘x is disposed to m ’, where ‘x’ denotes an object, ‘m’ a manifestation, and ‘C’ a condition, goes like this: ‘x is of natural kind k’, (...)
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  • Conditionals, Causality and Conditional Probability.Robert van Rooij & Katrin Schulz - 2019 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 28 (1):55-71.
    The appropriateness, or acceptability, of a conditional does not just ‘go with’ the corresponding conditional probability. A condition of dependence is required as well. In this paper a particular notion of dependence is proposed. It is shown that under both a forward causal and a backward evidential reading of the conditional, this appropriateness condition reduces to conditional probability under some natural circumstances. Because this is in particular the case for the so-called diagnostic reading of the conditional, this analysis might help (...)
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  • A Causal Power Semantics for Generic Sentences.Robert van Rooij & Katrin Schulz - 2021 - Topoi 40 (1):131-146.
    Many generic sentences express stable inductive generalizations. Stable inductive generalizations are typically true for a causal reason. In this paper we investigate to what extent this is also the case for the generalizations expressed by generic sentences. More in particular, we discuss the possibility that many generic sentences of the form ‘ks have feature e’ are true because kind k have the causal power to ‘produce’ feature e. We will argue that such an analysis is quite close to a probabilistic (...)
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  • The Nomic Role Account of Carving Reality at the Joints.Peter Vallentyne - 1998 - Synthese 115 (2):171-198.
    Natural properties are those that carve reality at the joints. The notion of carving reality at the joints, however, is somewhat obscure, and is often understood in terms of making for similarity, conferring causal powers, or figuring in the laws of nature. I develop and assess an account of the third sort according to which carving reality at the joints is understood as having the right level of determinacy relative to nomic roles. The account has the attraction of involving very (...)
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  • Grounding Theories of Powers.Matthew Tugby - 2021 - Synthese 198 (12):11187-11216.
    Necessitarianism, as we shall use the term, is the view that natural properties and causal powers are necessarily connected in some way. In recent decades the most popular forms of necessitarianism have been the anti-Humean powers-based theories of properties, such as dispositional essentialism and the identity theory. These versions of necessitarianism have come under fire in recent years and I believe it is time for necessitarians to develop a new approach. In this paper I identify unexplored ways of positing metaphysically (...)
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  • Realist Social Theory and Its Losing Battle with Concepts.Leonidas Tsilipakos - 2015 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (1):26-52.
    This article attempts to evidence the idea that progress in social theory is impeded by central theoretical procedures embodying a host of conceptual mistakes. The article focuses on realist theorizing, examining both early realist work on science and contemporary critical realism, and demonstrates how conceptual procedures employed therein lead to error and confusion. The standard use of these procedures entails, among other things, that social theoretical debates tend to remain irresolvable and that understanding of what it takes to demonstrate a (...)
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  • From Volitionalism to the Dual Aspect Theory of Action.Joshua Stuchlik - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (3):867-886.
    Volitionalism is a theory of action motivated by certain shortcomings in the standard causal theory of action. However, volitionalism is vulnerable to the objection that it distorts the phenomenology of embodied agency. Arguments for volitionalism typically proceed by attempting to establish three claims: (1) that whenever an agent acts, she tries or wills to act, (2) that it is possible for volitions to occur even in the absence of bodily movement, and (3) that in cases of successful bodily actions the (...)
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