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Ideas of Stephen Mumford, by Text

[British, fl. 2001, Professor at Nottingham University, then Durham University.]

1998 Dispositions
Pref p.-7 Dispositions are not just possibilities - they are features of actual things
01.1 p.3 Dispositions are ascribed to at least objects, substances and persons
01.1 p.4 Dispositions are attacked as mere regularities of events, or place-holders for unknown properties
01.2 iv p.8 Many artefacts have dispositional essences, which make them what they are
01.6 p.20 Dispositions can be contrasted either with occurrences, or with categorical properties
01.6 p.21 There could be dispositions that are never manifested
02.3 p.34 A lead molecule is not leaden, and macroscopic properties need not be microscopically present
03.6 p.50 Anti-realists deny truth-values to all statements, and say evidence and ontology are inseparable
03.7 p.56 Some dispositions are so far unknown, until we learn how to manifest them
03.8 p.60 Truth-functional conditionals can't distinguish whether they are causal or accidental
04.5 p.75 Dispositions are classifications of properties by functional role
04.7 p.81 Dispositions are not equivalent to stronger-than-material conditionals
04.7 p.83 Orthodoxy says dispositions entail conditionals (rather than being equivalent to them)
04.7 p.84 All properties must be causal powers (since they wouldn't exist otherwise)
04.9 p.88 If dispositions are powers, background conditions makes it hard to say what they do
05.3 p.101 Categorical properties and dispositions appear to explain one another
05.4 p.102 If dispositions have several categorical realisations, that makes the two separate
05.5 p.108 I say the categorical base causes the disposition manifestation
06.2 p.123 Intrinsic properties are just causal powers, and identifying a property as causal is then analytic
06.4 p.130 Nomothetic explanations cite laws, and structural explanations cite mechanisms
06.4 p.133 Subatomic particles may terminate explanation, if they lack structure
06.5 p.134 If fragile just means 'breaks when dropped', it won't explain a breakage
06.6 p.137 If every event has a cause, it is easy to invent a power to explain each case
06.8 p.140 Ontology is unrelated to explanation, which concerns modes of presentation and states of knowledge
06.9 p.141 Maybe dispositions can replace powers in metaphysics, as what induces property change
07.10 p.168 Traditional powers initiate change, but are mysterious between those changes
07.3 p.149 Unlike categorical bases, dispositions necessarily occupy a particular causal role
08.3A p.178 Categorical eliminativists say there are no dispositions, just categorical states or mechanisms
08.5 p.185 There are four reasons for seeing categorical properties as the most fundamental
08.6 p.190 Dispositions and categorical properties are two modes of presentation of the same thing
09.1 p.192 Modest realism says there is a reality; the presumptuous view says we can accurately describe it
09.7 p.210 Categorical predicates are those unconnected to functions
10.1 p.216 Maybe dispositions can replace the 'laws of nature' as the basis of explanation
10.2 p.218 In the 'laws' view events are basic, and properties are categorical, only existing when manifested
10.3 p.221 Without laws, how can a dispositionalist explain general behaviour within kinds?
10.4 p.222 It is a regularity that whenever a person sneezes, someone (somewhere) promptly coughs
10.4 p.225 Dretske and Armstrong base laws on regularities between individual properties, not between events
10.6 p.230 General laws depend upon the capacities of particulars, not the other way around
10.6 p.232 To avoid a regress in explanations, ungrounded dispositions will always have to be posited
10.7 p.235 Natural kinds, such as electrons, all behave the same way because we divide them by dispositions
10.8 p.237 The necessity of an electron being an electron is conceptual, and won't ground necessary laws
2004 Laws in Nature
01.2 p.6 Science studies phenomena, but only metaphysics tells us what exists
01.5 p.13 There are no laws of nature in Aristotle; they became standard with Descartes and Newton
01.5 p.14 You only need laws if you (erroneously) think the world is otherwise inert
03.3 p.39 Regularities are more likely with few instances, and guaranteed with no instances!
03.3 p.39 Would it count as a regularity if the only five As were also B?
03.4 p.42 The best systems theory says regularities derive from laws, rather than constituting them
03.4 p.44 If the best system describes a nomological system, the laws are in nature, not in the description
03.6 p.49 For Humeans the world is a world primarily of events
04.4 p.62 Many forms of reasoning, such as extrapolation and analogy, are useful but deductively invalid
04.5 p.63 Singular causes, and identities, might be necessary without falling under a law
05.3 p.70 Pure regularities are rare, usually only found in idealized conditions
06.2 p.85 Laws of nature are necessary relations between universal properties, rather than about particulars
06.4 p.90 If laws can be uninstantiated, this favours the view of them as connecting universals
07.2 p.108 Laws of nature are just the possession of essential properties by natural kinds
07.3 p.110 A 'porridge' nominalist thinks we just divide reality in any way that suits us
07.5 p.117 How can we show that a universally possessed property is an essential property?
07.5 p.117 To distinguish accidental from essential properties, we must include possible members of kinds
09.2 p.144 The Central Dilemma is how to explain an internal or external view of laws which govern
09.7 p.156 Regularity laws don't explain, because they have no governing role
10.1 p.161 It is only properties which are the source of necessity in the world
10.3 p.164 There are four candidates for the logical form of law statements
10.5 p.169 We can give up the counterfactual account if we take causal language at face value
10.6 p.171 Properties are just natural clusters of powers
10.6 p.173 If properties are clusters of powers, this can explain why properties resemble in degrees
2012 Metaphysics: a very short introduction
3 p.29 Substances, unlike aggregates, can survive a change of parts
8 p.83 Maybe possibilities are recombinations of the existing elements of reality
8 p.84 Combinatorial possibility has to allow all elements to be combinable, which seems unlikely
8 p.85 Combinatorial possibility relies on what actually exists (even over time), but there could be more
2014 Contemporary Efficient Causation: Aristotelian themes
8 p.335 Causation interests us because we want to explain change