Synthese 197 (11):4795-4811 (2020)

Alan Hajek
Australian National University
Start with an ordinary disposition ascription, like ‘the wire is live’ or ‘the glass is fragile’. Lewis gives a canonical template for what he regards as the analysandum of such an ascription:“Something x is disposed at time t to give response r to stimulus s”.For example, the wire is disposed at noon to conduct electrical current when touched by a conductor.What Lewis calls “the simple conditional analysis” gives putatively necessary and sufficient conditions for the analysandum in terms of a counterfactual:“if x were to undergo stimulus s at time t, x would give response r”.Call this the counterfactual analysans. For example: If the wire were to be touched by a conductor at noon, the wire would conduct electricity.So we have three things in play: the ordinary disposition ascription ; the canonical template that is supposed to formalize this disposition ascription; and the counterfactual analysans that is supposed to provided an analysis of the canonical template.Finkish dispositions have been widely regarded as counterexamples to the adequacy of as an analysis of. I will argue that they are not. They succeed, however, as counterexamples to the adequacy of as an analysis of. That said, the classic cases are somewhat contrived. I will introduce the notion of a minkish disposition: a disposition that something has, even though it might not display it in response to the relevant stimulus. Cases of minkish dispositions are entirely familiar. They refute the adequacy of both as an analysis of and of. I will argue that they also refute Lewis’s own, more complicated counterfactual analysis of dispositions, and bring out an internal tension in his views.
Keywords Dispositions  Counterfactuals  Finkish  Lewis  Martin  Intrinsic properties  Chance
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-1011-y
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophical Papers.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.
A Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance.David K. Lewis - 1980 - In Richard C. Jeffrey (ed.), Studies in Inductive Logic and Probability, Volume II. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 263-293.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1975 - Foundations of Language 13 (1):145-151.

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Citations of this work BETA

XV—Intelligent Capacities.Victoria McGeer - forthcoming - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.
Dispositions.Michael Fara - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Dispositions.Sungho Choi - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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