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Demarest, Heather, , . Fundamental Properties and the Laws of Nature
2015, Philosophy Compass 10(5) 224-344.
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Abstract: Fundamental properties and the laws of nature go hand in hand: mass and gravitation, charge and electromagnetism, spin and quantum mechanics. So, it is unsurprising that one’s account of fundamental properties affects one’s view of the laws of nature and vice versa. In this essay,the author surveys a variety of recent attempts to provide a joint account of the fundamental properties and the laws of nature. Many of these accounts are new and unexplored. Some of them posit surprising entities, such as counterfacts. Other accounts posit surprising laws of nature, such as instantaneous laws that constrain the initial configuration of particles. These exciting developments challenge our assumptions about our basic ontology and provide fertile ground for further exploration.

Comment: The article introduces in a simple way some fundamental concepts such as ‘law of nature’, ‘properties’, the notion of ‘categorical’ and ‘dispositional’ or the distinction between the governing and the systems approaches. It could serve as an introduction for those undergraduates that have never heard of these concepts before, or as a further reading for those in need of clarification. Some examples of modern fundamental physics are used as examples.

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Vetter, Barbara, , . Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality
2015, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: This book develops and defends dispositionalism about modality: the view that metaphysical modality is a matter of the dispositions that objects have. Dispositionalism is an attractive view for actualists about modality, and for anyone who embraces an anti-Humean metaphysics of powers. This book shows in detail how such a view is to be formulated, which challenges it faces, and how they may be met. The metaphysics of potentiality is examined in detail to show that the view meets the three main challenges for a metaphysics of modality: (1) Extensional correctness: providing the right truth-values for statements of possibility and necessity; (2) formal adequacy: providing the right logic for metaphysical modality; and (3) semantic utility: providing a semantics that links ordinary modal language to the metaphysics of modality.

Comment: The book develops the dispositionalist view in a way that takes account of contemporary developments in metaphysics, logic, and semantics. It can be used as a main reading in metaphysics and as further reading in many other fields. Recommendable in principle for postgraduate courses.

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