Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality

Hardcover | March 12, 2015

byBarbara Vetter

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Individual objects have potentials: paper has the potential to burn, an acorn has the potential to turn into a tree, some people have the potential to run a mile in less than four minutes. Barbara Vetter provides a systematic investigation into the metaphysics of such potentials, and anaccount of metaphysical modality based on them. In contemporary philosophy, potentials have been recognized mostly in the form of so-called dispositions: solubility, fragility, and so on. Vetter takes dispositions as her starting point, but argues for and develops a more comprehensive conception of potentiality. She shows how, with this morecomprehensive conception, an account of metaphysical modality can be given that meets three crucial requirements: (1) Extensional correctness: providing the right truth-values for statements of possibility and necessity; (2) formal adequacy: providing the right logic for metaphysical modality; and(3) semantic utility: providing a semantics that links ordinary modal language to the metaphysics of modality. The resulting view of modality is a version of dispositionalism about modality: it takes modality to be a matter of the dispositions of individual objects (and, crucially, not of possible worlds). This approach has a long philosophical tradition going back to Aristotle, but has been largelyneglected in contemporary philosophy. In recent years, it has become a live option again due to the rise of anti-Humean, powers-based metaphysics. The aim of Potentiality is to develop the dispositionalist view in a way that takes account of contemporary developments in metaphysics, logic, andsemantics.

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Individual objects have potentials: paper has the potential to burn, an acorn has the potential to turn into a tree, some people have the potential to run a mile in less than four minutes. Barbara Vetter provides a systematic investigation into the metaphysics of such potentials, and anaccount of metaphysical modality based on them. I...

Barbara Vetter has a BPhil and a DPhil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford and is now a junior professor for theoretical philosophy at Humboldt-University, Berlin.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.07 inPublished:March 12, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198714319

ISBN - 13:9780198714316

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Table of Contents

1. The Project2. Dispositions: against the standard conception3. Dispositions: an alternative conception4. Varieties of potentiality5. Formalizing potentiality6. Possibility: metaphysics and semantics7. Objections8. Formal adequacyBibliographyIndex