Sunday, September 30, 2018

Jennifer McKitrick's "Dispositional Pluralism"

Jennifer McKitrick is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she has worked since 2004.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Dispositional Pluralism, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Dispositional Pluralism is the final page of Chapter 4, “The Metaphysics of Dispositional Pluralism,” one of the central chapters of the book. Dispositional Pluralism is the view that dispositional properties are abundant and diverse. On this view, when something has a disposition, it is such that, if it were in a certain kind of circumstance, a certain kind of effect would occur. Dispositions include such varied properties as character traits like a hero’s courage, characteristics of physical objects like a wine glass’s fragility, and characteristics of microphysical entities like an electron’s charge. Some dispositions are natural while others are non-natural. Some dispositions called “powers” are ungrounded while non-fundamental dispositions are grounded in other properties. Some dispositions manifest constantly, some of them manifest spontaneously, while others manifest only when they are triggered to do so. Some dispositions manifest by causing another dispositional property to be instantiated, while others have manifestations that involve non-dispositional properties and relations. Some dispositions are intrinsic to their bearers while others are extrinsic. Some of them are causally relevant to their manifestations while others are not. Some dispositions manifest in some particular way in particular circumstances, while other dispositions manifest in various ways in various circumstances. While some of the chapters of Dispositional Pluralism are revised versions my previous publications, Chapter 4 is all new material, in which I dig deep to uncover the metaphysical assumptions I have been making in my work for years. On page 99, I am comparing my views to Ann Whittle’s causal nominalism. While Whittle and I agree that there are fundamental counterfactual facts (what she calls functional facts), my view differs from Whittle’s in that I maintain the ontological reality of properties, non-dispositional properties, and powers. The page, and the chapter closes with the following: “This concludes my articulation of the metaphysical assumptions that underlie Dispositional Pluralism. In the following chapters, I explore the nature of manifestations and circumstances of manifestation, and go on to argue that dispositions can be extrinsic, ungrounded, and causally relevant.”
Learn more about Dispositional Pluralism at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue