Does Pandispositionalism Lead to Monism?

Sharon Ford

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)peer-review


    Sydney Shoemaker’s early Causal Theory of Properties (1980a, 1984) is a starting place for Stephen Mumford’s contemporary Pandispositionalism (2004, 2006, 2009). Shoemaker distinguished between genuine and mere-Cambridge properties and relations on the basis of two criteria:

    (i) all genuine properties are clusters of causal powers and all clusters of causal powers are genuine properties (1980b, pp. 294-296; 1984, pp. 213, 217-221); and
    (ii) all genuine properties are intrinsic (1980b, p. 292).

    Although Shoemaker later dispensed with the strict identification between properties and powers (1998), Mumford retains both of the above criteria in formulating his Theory of Realist Lawlessness (2004). He views powers as comprising properties, but doing so in accompaniment with other de re connections (2004, p. 170). The powers are intrinsic, but these other connections ensure the ability for properties to manifest their powers, and so the essence and identity of properties is also determined by these connections to other properties (p. 171).
    A further feature of Mumford’s Realist Lawless account is that external, governing relations are eliminated. I extend his argument to show that, by the same reasoning, there is no room for any external relation in Mumford’s metaphysic, governing or otherwise; and that all relations must be internal, that is, grounded in the intrinsic properties and powers of things (2004, p. 167). If a relation is internal, then it does not exist in addition to or independent from its relata. The familiar language of relations and relata tends to assume the notion of relation-plus-relata, but this infuses the dialogue with a bias toward externality. By separating ‘relata’ and ‘relation’, and defining relations as ‘holding between relata’, the relation is set up as intuitively over and above its relata, such that it would be deemed ‘external’. There is, therefore, a subtle difference between the above bias and Mumford’s definition of an internal relation as ‘something that exists when its relata exist’ (2004, p. 197). Additionally, Mumford’s description of a property as a ‘cluster of relations’ (2004, p. 17) more aptly equates the existence of a property with the existence of relations, rather than setting relations up as something distinct from the properties so related.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages38
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2011
    EventPutting Powers to Work: Causal Powers in Contemporary Metaphysics - St. Louis, Missouri, United States
    Duration: 28 Apr 201130 Apr 2011


    ConferencePutting Powers to Work
    Country/TerritoryUnited States


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