Grounding theories of powers

Synthese 198 (12):11187-11216 (2021)
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Abstract

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 necessary connections in nature, using the concepts of grounding and essential dependence. For example, I show that one could be a necessitarian by insisting that the properties of things necessarily ground their powers, and that one can maintain this while rejecting dispositional essentialism. Using different combinations of claims about grounding and essential dependence, I map out a spectrum of new positions and compare them to previous theories of natural modality. Some of these positions are compatible with Humean metaphysics while others are not. The overall aim of the paper is to provide a new metaphysical framework for understanding theories of powers and thereby launch a new necessitarian research programme.

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Matthew Tugby
Durham University

Citations of this work

Properties.Francesco Orilia & Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Reconsidering the Dispositional Essentialist Canon.Samuel Kimpton-Nye - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3421-3441.
Unmanifested Powers and Universals.Ashley Coates - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-22.
The Bare Past.Vincent Grandjean - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-28.

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Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
Making Things Up.Karen Bennett - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.

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