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Harman, Elizabeth, , . The potentiality problem
2003, Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):173 - 198.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Many people face a problem about potentiality: their moral beliefs appear to dictate inconsistent views about the signifcance of the potentiality to become a healthy adult. Briefy, the problem arises as follows. Consider the following two claims. First, both human babies and cats have moral status, but harms to babies matter more, morally, than similar harms to cats. Second, early human embryos lack moral status. It appears that the first claim can only be true if human babies have more moral status than cats. Among the properties that determine moral status, human babies have no properties other than their potentiality that could explain their having more moral status than cats. So human babies’ potentiality to become adult persons must explain their having more moral status than cats. But then potentiality must raise moral status generally. So early human embryos must have some moral status. It appears that the view that must underlie the first claim implies that the second claim is false.

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Vetter, Barbara, , . Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality
2015, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

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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