Dispositions. A Workshop with Jennifer McKitrick

Cologne
July 23, 2012

DFG Research Group Causation | Laws | Dispositions | Explanation

PROGRAM

10:00-10:15
Arrival

10:15-11:30
Kristina Engelhard: „Dispositions: Latency and Manifestation as states?“

Coffee

11:45-13:00
Andreas Bartels: „Why metrical properties are not powers“

Lunch

14:30-15:45
Mauricio Suarez: „Propensities and Pragmatism“

Coffee

16:00-17:30
Jennifer McKitrick: „Dispositional Essentialism without Necessitarianism“

Drinks, Dinner

The workshop will take place at Richard-Strauß-Str. 2, Room 1.A13 (Bauwens Gebäude).

REGISTRATION

Regsitration is kindly requested but not mandatory. Please send an email to markus.schrenk[at]uni-koeln.de by July 14th.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the organiser:
markus.schrenk[at]uni-koeln.de

ABSTRACTS

Kristina Engelhard: „Dispositions: Latency and Manifestation as states?“

Among other characterizations of what kind of thing dispositions and their manifestations are – numerically different causally related properties, or properties and events or processes – they are sometimes taken as different states (e.g. by Jennifer McKitrick). In the first part of the paper I investigate what this talk of „states“ might mean if it is not just a metaphor, whether they really are states of properties, e.g. modalstates, or whether they are states of the particular in virtue of having the disposition. In the second part I question whether the picture of dispositions and their manifestations as states is compatible with other characterizations or not. A hypothesis is that to take dispositions and manifestations as different states of properties supports a view according to which dispositions and their manifestations are numerically identical, such that the disposition F in its latent state is the very same property as its manifestation. This view seems to be the original meaning of „manifestation“. According to this view the manifesting of a disposition would be a change of state of the very same property. A second related view would be that latency and manifestation are modes of instantiation. A particular may instantiate a property F latently; while under certain conditions it might instantiate the property manifestly. A third view might take latency and manifestation as states of the particular itself. While manifestation conditions are absent the particular is in a state of latently having the disposition F; when manifestation conditions are present the particular changes its state by manifesting F. The paper explores whether such views are compatible with other important features of dispositionality, e.g. to take manifestations as effects. Finally I discuss advantages but also problems of these views.

Andreas Bartels: „Why metrical properties are not powers“

What has the dispositional analysis of properties and laws (e.g. Molnar, Powers, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003; Mumford, Laws in nature, Routledge London, 2004; Bird, Nature’s metaphysics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007) to offer to the scientific understanding of physical properties?—The article provides an answer to this question for the case of spacetime points and their metrical properties in General Relativity. The analysis shows that metrical properties are not ‘powers’, i.e. they cannot be understood as producing the effects of spacetime on matter with metaphysical necessity. Instead they possess categorical characteristics which, in connection with specific laws, explain those effects. Thus, the properties of spacetime do not favor the metaphysics of powers with respect to properties and laws.

Mauricio Suarez: „Propensities and Pragmatism“

This paper provides the outlines of a genuinely pragmatist conception of propensity, and defends it against common objections to the propensity interpretation of probability, prominently Humphreys’ paradox. The paper reviews the paradox and identifies one of its key assumptions, the identity thesis, according to which propensities are probabilities (under a suitable interpretation of Kolmogorov’s axioms). The identity thesis is also involved in many empiricist versions of the propensity interpretation deriving from Popper’s original and influential proposal, and makes such interpretations untenable. As an alternative, I urge a return to Charles Peirce’s original insights on probabilistic dispositions, and offer a reconstructed version of his pragmatist conception, which rejects the identity thesis.

Jennifer McKitrick: „Dispositional Essentialism without Necessitarianism“

Some philosophers claim that, if natural laws derive from what powers there are, and if what a power is is determined by what it’s a power for, then it turns out that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. Many find this view intuitively unattractive. However, there are several ways to have essential dispositional properties while avoiding metaphysically necessary laws. According to “lawlessness,” properties have dispositional essences, but there are no laws of nature, necessary or otherwise. According to “probabilism,” indeterministic, stochastic powers do not support exceptionless laws. On a “mixed view” non- dispositional properties have variable behavior, making for different laws in different possible worlds. According to “immanent realism,” if any properties had not been instantiated, they would not have existed, and the laws about them would not have held. A fifth possibility is “loose essentialism,” according to which properties could have had a slightly different causal profile, and consequently, the laws could have been different.