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Potential problems? Some issues with Vetter’s potentiality account of modality

Nathan Wildman


As Vetter says, we are at the “beginning of the debate, not the end” (2015: 300) when it comes to evaluating her potentiality-based account of metaphysical modality. This paper contributes to this developing debate by highlighting three problems for Vetter’s account. Specifically, I begin (§1) by articulating some relevant details of Vetter’s potentiality-based view. This leads to the first issue (§2), concerning unclarity in the idea of degrees of potentiality. Similarly, the second issue (§3) raises trouble for Vetter’s proposed individuation conditions for potentialities. Finally, the third issue (§4) is about apparently unmanifestable intrinsic potentialities, and suggests that there might be some deeper problems with anchoring metaphysical possibilities in concrete objects. More generally, though the issues detailed here are problematic, I do not take them to be fatal. However, they do show that, at minimum, further clarification of Vetter’s potentiality view is required.


possibility; metaphysical modality; potentiality; dispositionalism; Vetter, Barbara

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