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Mørch, Hedda Hassel. Does Dispositionalism Entail Panpsychism?
2018, Topoi 1(16)
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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