Dispositions and ergativity

Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):381-395 (2015)
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Attempts to give necessary and sufficient conditions for demarcating ‘dispositional’ predicates (such as ‘is fragile’) from other predicates are generally acknowledged to fail. This leaves unresolved the question of what it is about paradigm instances of dispositional predicates in virtue of which their application to an object constitutes a disposition ascription. This essay proposes that dispositional predicates are generally derived from ergative verbs, those verbs that allow for certain entailments from transitive to intransitive forms (as ‘Sam broke the glass’ entails ‘The glass broke’). The connection between disposition ascriptions and ergativity is shown to have consequences for the metaphysics of dispositions.



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John T. Maier
Lesley University

Citations of this work

Agentive Modals.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):301-343.
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Dispositions.James M. Bucknell - 2015 - Dissertation, Univeristy of New South Wales

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