Potentiality : From Dispositions to Modality, Hardback Book

Potentiality : From Dispositions to Modality Hardback

Part of the Oxford Philosophical Monographs series


Individual objects have potentials: paper has the potential to burn, an acorn has the potential to turn into a tree, some people have the potential to run a mile in less than four minutes.

Barbara Vetter provides a systematic investigation into the metaphysics of such potentials, and an account of metaphysical modality based on them.

In contemporary philosophy, potentials have been recognized mostly in the form of so-called dispositions: solubility, fragility, and so on.

Vetter takes dispositions as her starting point, but argues for and develops a more comprehensive conception of potentiality.

She shows how, with this more comprehensive conception, an account of metaphysical modality can be given that meets three crucial requirements: (1) Extensional correctness: providing the right truth-values for statements ofpossibility and necessity; (2) formal adequacy: providing the right logic for metaphysical modality; and (3) semantic utility: providing a semantics that links ordinary modal language to the metaphysics of modality.

The resulting view of modality is a version of dispositionalism about modality: it takes modality to be a matter of the dispositions of individual objects (and, crucially, not of possible worlds).

This approach has a long philosophical tradition going back to Aristotle, but has been largely neglected in contemporary philosophy.

In recent years, it has become a live option again due to the rise of anti-Humean, powers-based metaphysics.

The aim of Potentiality is to develop thedispositionalist view in a way that takes account of contemporary developments in metaphysics, logic, and semantics.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Philosophy of language
  • ISBN: 9780198714316


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