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Possibility and the analysis of dispositions

Alexander Bird


I examine Barbara Vetter’s dispositional account of modality and the analysis of dispositions upon which it is based. The latter ties dispositions to manifestations only. I argue that this feature gives Vetter’s account an advantage over other dispositional accounts of modality – it avoids the ‘problem of [how to ground] non-conditional possibilities’. On the other hand, I argue that we need stimuli as well as manifestations in order to distinguish distinct dispositions that have identical manifestations. Vetter’s answer to the latter says that some manifestations are conditional in nature. That answer undermines the advantage that Vetter’s account had with regard to the problem of non-conditional possibilities – her view now also faces that problem. I also raise the question of how it is that the analysis of an ‘everyday’ concept such as ‘disposition’ could provide insight into fundamental questions of modal metaphysics.


disposition; modality; possibility; the problem of non-conditional possibilities; Vetter;

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