Dispositions and Powers
(Dispositions and Powers)

In many areas of philosophy it is common to distinguish ‘categorical’ terms and properties from ‘dispositional’ ones. Often used examples for the latter are physical properties like fragility, solubility, conductivity, but also mental properties like having beliefs or being irascible. Dispositions are metaphysically interesting primarily because their ascription involves modal considerations: dispositional terms express how things or persons would behave if they were in certain circumstances. Some philosophers think that, exactly for this reason, dispositional terms cannot refer to objects’ causally relevant properties. Others believe that they can do so only if they can be reduced to objects’ non-dispositional properties or that dispositions must have some ‘categorical base’. In the course we shall discuss the case for and against realism about dispositions.