more from Brian Ellis

Single Idea 5459

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / a. Scientific essentialism]

Full Idea

Essentialists say that dispositional properties may be fundamental, whereas for a passivist such qualities are not primary, but supervene on the primary qualities of matter, and on the laws of nature.


'Passivists' thing objects are passive, and natural laws are imposed on them

Gist of Idea

Essentialists say dispositions are basic, rather than supervenient on matter and natural laws


Brian Ellis (The Philosophy of Nature: new essentialism [2002], Ch.3)

Book Reference

Ellis,Brian: 'The Philosophy of Nature: new essentialism' [Acumen 2002], p.48

A Reaction

I am strongly in favour of this view of nature. Without essentialism, we have laws of nature arising out of a total void (or God), and arbitrarily imposing themselves on matter. What are the 'primary qualities of matter', if not dispositions?