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Universals, laws, and governance.

Tugby, M. (2015) 'Universals, laws, and governance.', Philosophical studies., 173 (5). pp. 1147-1163.


Proponents of the dispositional theory of properties typically claim that their view is not one that offers a realist, governing conception of laws. My first aim is to show that, contrary to this claim, if one commits to dispositionalism then one does not automatically give up on a robust, realist theory of laws. This is because dispositionalism can readily be developed within a Platonic framework of universals. Second, I argue that there are good reasons for realist dispositionalists to favour a Platonic view. This is because the alternative Aristotelian version of dispositionalism, on which universals are immanent entities, is unstable for various reasons. My final aim is to address a common criticism facing Platonic theories of laws, which is the problem of how external entities can play an explanatory role where the world’s law-like patterns of behaviour are concerned. I argue that the Platonists’ response to the one over many problem can help to shed light on this matter, and a possible solution is sketched, one which makes use of the notions of essence, constitution and ontological dependence.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Laws, Dispositions, Universals, Platonism, Aristotelianism, Explanation.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:The final publication is available at Springer via
Date accepted:26 July 2015
Date deposited:31 July 2015
Date of first online publication:26 July 2015
Date first made open access:26 July 2016

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