Philosophy, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in DEBATING DISPOSITIONS: ISSUES IN METAPHYSICS, EPISTEMOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY OF MIND, ed. Gregor Damschen, Robert Schnepf, and Karsten R. Stüber (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2009), pp. 186-203.


Copyright (c) 2009 Walter de Gruyter. Used by permission.


In this paper, I make the case for the view that there are many different kinds of dispositions, a view I call dispositional pluralism. The reason I think that this case needs to be made is to temper the tendency to make sweeping generalization about the nature of dispositions that go beyond conceptual truths. Examples of such generalizations include claims that all dispositions are intrinsic, essential, fundamental, or natural.! In order to counter this tendency, I will start by noting the extent to which it is at odds with the semantics of dispositions, according to which there are many kinds of disposition ascriptions. From there, I will try to support a metaphysical claim that there are different kinds of dispositions. To bridge the gap between semantics and metaphysics, I appeal to epistemology. I'll consider the question "when do we have good reason to believe that a disposition ascription is true?" If our disposition ascriptions are true, then we are right about what kinds of dispositions things have, and what kinds of dispositions there are. I claim that our evidence for different kinds of dispositions is on a par; we have reason to believe that various kinds of dispositions are instantiated.