Taste, traits, and tendencies

Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1183-1206 (2021)
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Many experiential properties are naturally understood as dispositions such that e.g. a cake tastes good to you iff you are disposed to get gustatory pleasure when you eat it. Such dispositional analyses, however, face a challenge. It has been widely observed that one cannot properly assert “The cake tastes good to me” unless one has tried it. This acquaintance requirement is puzzling on the dispositional account because it should be possible to be disposed to like the cake even if this disposition has never been manifested. We argue that familiar response strategies on behalf of the dispositionalist fail. These include appeals to conversational implicatures, expressivism, semantic presuppositions and norms of assertion. Against this background, we propose a new analysis in terms of what we call tendencies, where a tendency is a disposition that has been manifested. The acquaintance requirement comes out as an entailment. We point out a hitherto unnoticed parallel to sentences ascribing character traits such as “Hannah is brave,” and extend our tendency-based analysis to this domain.



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Author Profiles

Alexander Dinges
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Julia Zakkou
Bielefeld University

References found in this work

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Studies in the Way of Words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality.Barbara Vetter - 2015 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.

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