Powers and Capacities in Philosophy: The New Aristotelianism
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Powers and Capacities in Philosophy is designed to stake out an emerging, discipline-spanning neo-Aristotelian framework grounded in realism about causal powers.
The volume brings together for the first time original essays by leading philosophers working on powers in relation to metaphysics, philosophy of natural and social science, philosophy of mind and action, epistemology, ethics and social and political philosophy. In each area, the concern is to show how a commitment to real causal powers affects discussion at the level in question. In metaphysics, for example, realism about powers is now recognized as providing an alternative to orthodox accounts of causation, modality, properties and laws. Dispositional realist philosophers of science, meanwhile, argue that a powers ontology allows for a proper account of the nature of scientific explanation. In the philosophy of mind there is the suggestion that agency is best understood in terms of the distinctive powers of human beings. Those who take virtue theoretic approaches in epistemology and ethics have long been interested in the powers that allow for knowledge and/or moral excellence. In social and political philosophy, finally, powers theorists are interested in the powers of sociological phenomena such as collectivities, institutions, roles and/or social relations, but also in the conditions of possibility for the cultivation of the powers of individuals. The book will be of interest to philosophers working in any of these areas, as well as to historians of philosophy, political theorists and critical realists.
approach also applies to persons. (William Jaworski and Tony Lawson also offer accounts of emergence later in the volume.) Lynn Joy then argues that Hume’s rejection of causal powers—“internal dispositions,” as she calls them—presupposes his commitment to the relation of cause and effect, or “external dispositions.” For this reason, she contends, “Hume’s role as a standard opponent of dispositions theorists needs major revision.” Next come three chapters in the philosophy of science. The
of emergent properties such as that given by O&C, or even from a weaker notion of emergence, such as that argued for by Bedau. But I have not argued for Aquinas’s account. It seems to me that the argument O&C make against non-reductive physicalism does not apply to Aquinas’s account, but I have not argued for this claim either. What I have tried to show is just the distinctive character of Aquinas’s account and the ambiguity of some of the conditions and claims on which the argument against
that carry the power (perhaps their microstructure, shape, or other feature, like mass), that tell us if the power is present; knowledge of the contribution the power produces; and knowledge of how contributions combine in change-processes in different types of machine arrangement. To make use of such knowledge in a real-world context, the sciences— and engineering—typically characterize the context as being of some machine arrangement type with which we are already familiar. We pick out some
understood here in terms of relations. The dispositional account of properties of scientific interest characterizes them in terms of dispositions for . . . relations! The behaviours that entities manifest in virtue of the dispositions they possess are generally described by scientific theories in terms of relations, often in the form of mathematical equations relating variables whose values are determinate magnitudes of the properties in question. The dispositional realist offers an account of
choose to ϕ for a particular reason R, A thereby manifests his or her responsiveness to R—exhibits the fact that he or she is genuinely responding to that particular reason for so acting, as opposed to any other reason or indeed no reason at all. This, then, seems to capture, in exclusively noncausal terms, the sense in which an agent can genuinely “respond” to a reason for action qua reason for action. To draw these matters to a conclusion, I now want to explain why I think that no purely