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Dispositional realism without dispositional essences

Tugby, Matthew (2022) 'Dispositional realism without dispositional essences.', Synthese, 200 (3). p. 222.


Dispositional realism, as we shall use the term, is a non-reductive, anti-Humean approach to dispositions which says that natural properties confer certain dispositions as a matter of metaphysical necessity. A strong form of dispositional realism is known as pan-dispositionalism, which is typically interpreted as the view that all natural properties are identical with, or essentially dependent on, dispositions. One of the most serious problems facing pan-dispositionalism is the conceivability objection, and the solution commonly offered by essentialists employs the so-called redescription strategy. In this paper I argue that this orthodox strategy fails in certain cases. This argument, in turn, shows that essentialist forms of dispositional realism are implausible. The discussion points us towards an improved version of dispositional realism. According to this new version, natural properties are not essentially dispositional but necessarily ground dispositions.

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Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date accepted:14 December 2021
Date deposited:17 May 2022
Date of first online publication:13 May 2022
Date first made open access:17 May 2022

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