•  94
    The standard Kratzerian analysis of modal auxiliaries, such as ‘may’ and ‘can’, takes them to be univocal and context-sensitive. Our first aim is to argue for an alternative view, on which such expressions are polysemous. Our second aim is to thereby shed light on the distinction between semantic context-sensitivity and polysemy. To achieve these aims, we examine the mechanisms of polysemy and context-sensitivity and provide criteria with which they can be held apart. We apply the criteria to mo…Read more
  •  19
    Semantik, Pragmatik und Ontologie: Felka über spezifizierende Sätze und einfache Argumente
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 70 (4): 406-411. 2016.
  •  261
    On Linking Dispositions and Which Conditionals?
    Mind 120 (480): 1173-1189. 2011.
    Manley and Wasserman (2008) have provided a convincing case against analyses of dispositions in terms of one conditional, and a very interesting positive proposal that links any disposition to a ‘suitable proportion’ of a particular set of precise conditionals. I focus on their positive proposal and ask just how precise those conditionals are to be. I argue that, contrary to what Manley and Wasserman imply in their paper, they must be maximally specific, describing in their antecedents complete …Read more
  •  262
    Williamsonian modal epistemology, possibility-based
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5): 766-795. 2016.
    Williamsonian modal epistemology is characterized by two commitments: realism about modality, and anti-exceptionalism about our modal knowledge. Williamson’s own counterfactual-based modal epistemology is the best known implementation of WME, but not the only option that is available. I sketch and defend an alternative implementation which takes our knowledge of metaphysical modality to arise, not from knowledge of counterfactuals, but from our knowledge of ordinary possibility statements of the…Read more
  •  135
    According to ecological psychology, animals perceive not just the qualities of things in their environment, but their affordances: in James Gibson’s words, ’what things furnish, for good or ill’. I propose a metaphysics for affordances that fits into a contemporary anti-Humean metaphysics of powers or potentialities. The goal is to connect two debates, one in the philosophy of perception and one in metaphysics, that stand to gain much from each other.
  •  39
    II—Evolved Powers, Artefact Powers, and Dispositional Explanations
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 92 (1): 277-297. 2018.
    Alexander Bird puts forward a modest version of anti-Humeanism about the non-fundamental, by providing an argument for the existence of a certain select class of non-fundamental but sparse dispositions: those that have an evolutionary function. I argue that his argument over-generates, so much so that the sparse–abundant distinction, and with it the tenet of his anti-Humean view, becomes obsolete. I suggest an alternative way of understanding anti-Humeanism in the non-fundamental realm, one whic…Read more
  •  11
    Précis zu Potentiality: From dispositions to modality
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 69 (3): 391-395. 2015.
  •  13
    Semantik, Pragmatik und Ontologie: Felka über spezifizierende Sätze und einfache Argumente
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 70 (3): 406-411. 2016.
  •  16
    Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality
    Oxford University Press. 2015.
    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 disposi…Read more
  •  3
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 69 (3): 408-412. 2015.
  •  36
    A plenitude of powers
    Synthese 1-21. forthcoming.
    Dispositionalism about modality is the view that metaphysical modality is a matter of the dispositions possessed by actual objects. In a recent paper, David Yates has raised an important worry about the formal adequacy of dispositionalism. This paper responds to Yates’s worry by developing a reply that Yates discusses briefly but dismisses as ad hoc: an appeal to a ’plenitude of powers’ including such powers as the necessarily always manifested power for \ to be 4. I argue that the reply is not …Read more
  •  638
    Dispositions without Conditionals
    Mind 123 (489): 129-156. 2014.
    Dispositions are modal properties. The standard conception of dispositions holds that each disposition is individuated by its stimulus condition(s) and its manifestation(s), and that their modality is best captured by some conditional construction that relates stimulus to manifestation as antecedent to consequent. I propose an alternative conception of dispositions: each disposition is individuated by its manifestation alone, and its modality is closest to that of possibility — a fragile vase, f…Read more
  •  48
    Dispositional accounts of abilities
    Philosophy Compass 12 (8). 2017.
    This paper explores the prospects for dispositional accounts of abilities. According to so-called new dispositionalists, an agent has the ability to Φ iff they have a disposition to Φ when trying to Φ. We show that the new dispositionalism is beset by some problems that also beset its predecessor, the conditional analysis of abilities, and bring up some further problems. We then turn to a different approach, which links abilities not to motivational states but to the notion of success, and consi…Read more
  •  211
    Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (1). 2011.
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 25, Issue 1, Page 83-86, March 2011
  •  33
    Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties (review)
    Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 12 320-328. 2009.
  •  432
    Multi‐track dispositions
    Philosophical Quarterly 63 (251): 330-352. 2013.
    It is a familiar point that many ordinary dispositions are multi-track, that is, not fully and adequately characterisable by a single conditional. In this paper, I argue that both the extent and the implications of this point have been severely underestimated. First, I provide new arguments to show that every disposition whose stimulus condition is a determinable quantity must be infinitely multi-track. Secondly, I argue that this result should incline us to move away from the standard assumptio…Read more
  •  285
    Counterpossibles for dispositionalists
    Philosophical Studies 173 (10): 2681-2700. 2016.
    Dispositionalists try to provide an account of modality—possibility, necessity, and the counterfactual conditional—in terms of dispositions. But there may be a tension between dispositionalist accounts of possibility on the one hand, and of counterfactuals on the other. Dispositionalists about possibility must hold that there are no impossible dispositions, i.e., dispositions with metaphysically impossible stimulus and/or manifestation conditions; dispositionalist accounts of counterfactuals, if…Read more
  •  476
    Are abilities dispositions?
    Synthese 196 (1). forthcoming.
    Abilities are in many ways central to what being an agent means, and they are appealed to in philosophical accounts of a great many different phenomena. It is often assumed that abilities are some kind of dispositional property, but it is rarely made explicit exactly which dispositional properties are our abilities. Two recent debates provide two different answers to that question: the new dispositionalism in the debate about free will, and virtue reliabilism in epistemology. This paper argues t…Read more
  •  29
    Digging Deeper: Why Metaphysics is More Than a Toolbox
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2): 231-241. 2018.
    Steven French proposes a vindication of “scientifically disinterested” metaphysics that leaves little room to its original ambitions. He claims that as a discipline that looks to find out truths about the world, it is untenable; and that rather, its vindication lies in its use as a “toolbox” of concepts for a philosophical discipline that does have a claim at getting us closer to truth—the philosophy of science, and more specifically of physics. I respond to both his main claims. The first claim…Read more
  •  211
    Metaphysicians of modality are increasingly critical of possible-worlds talk, and increasingly happy to accept irreducibly modal properties – and in particular, irreducible dispositions – in nature. The aim of this paper is to provide the beginnings of a modal semantics which uses, instead of possible-worlds talk, the resources of such an 'anti-Humean' metaphysics. One central challenge to an anti-Humean view is the context-sensitivity of modal language. I show how that challenge can be met and …Read more