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Anjum, Rani Lill, , Stephen Mumford. A Powerful Theory of Causation
2010, In Anna Marmodoro (ed.) The Metaphysics of Powers, Routledge (2010): 143-59.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: Hume thought that if you believed in powers, you believed in necessary connections in nature. He was then able to argue that there were none such because anything could follow anything else. But Hume wrong-footed his opponents. A power does not necessitate its manifestations: rather, it disposes towards them in a way that is less than necessary but more than purely contingent. In this paper a dispositional theory of causation is offered. Causes dispose towards their effects and often produce them. But a set of causes, even though they may succeed in producing an effect, cannot necessitate it since the effect could have been counteracted by some additional power. This would require a separation of our concepts of causal production and causal necessitation. The most conspicuous cases of causation are those where powers accumulate and pass a requisite threshold for an effect to occur. We develop a model for representing powers as constituent vectors within an n-dimensional quality space, where composition of causes appears as vector addition. Even our resultant vector, however, has to be understood as having dispositional force only. This model throws new light on causal modality and cases of prevention, causation by absence and probabilistic causation.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics, philosophy of science, or any course in which philosophical accounts of causation are relevant. This paper has the benefit of being both clear and non-technical, and being quite cutting-edge. Suitable for undergraduates of all levels.

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Mørch, Hedda Hassel, , . Does Dispositionalism Entail Panpsychism?
2018, Topoi 1(16)
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Greg Miller

Abstract: According to recent arguments for panpsychism, all (or most) physical properties are dispositional, dispositions require categorical grounds, and the only categorical properties we know are phenomenal properties. Therefore, phenomenal properties can be posited as the categorical grounds of all (or most) physical properties—in order to solve the mind–body problem and/or in order avoid noumenalism about the grounds of the physical world. One challenge to this case comes from dispositionalism, which agrees that all physical properties are dispositional, but denies that dispositions require categorical grounds. In this paper, I propose that this challenge can be met by the claim that the only (fundamentally) dispositional properties we know are phenomenal properties, in particular, phenomenal properties associated with agency, intention and/or motivation. Versions of this claim have been common in the history of philosophy, and have also been supported by a number of contemporary dispositionalists (and other realists about causal powers). I will defend a new and updated version of it. Combined with other premises from the original case for panpsychism—which are not affected by the challenge from dispositionalism—it forms an argument that dispositionalism entails panpsychism.

Comment: This paper argues that dispositional essentialism about properties entails a form of panpsychism because, as a matter of fact, the only dispositional properties we know of are phenomenal properties. This paper is a development of an early argument from Galen Strawson, but it is also entirely novel and intersects with the lively debate about Russellian Monsim. This paper is harder than an introductory text, but students who already understand the debate will not find this text difficult. Students will only need to be familiar with debates about dispositions and powerful properties.

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