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Dispositional Properties

David Weissman

Publication Year: 2008

In Dispositional Properties, David Weissman attacks a problem central to the philosophy of mind and, by implication, to the theory of being: Are there potentialities, capabilities, which dispose the mind to think in one way rather than another?

The volume is arranged in the form of four arguments that converge upon a single point. First, there is an intricate discussion of the shortcomings of Hume's account of mind as ideas and impressions. Next comes a brief treatment of the arguments of some of Weissman's contemporaries, including Carnap and Braithwaite. Third, Weissman discusses Wittgenstein's theories of learning and knowledge. Finally, there is a full discussion of Aristotle and his doctrine of potentialities.

The question this book ultimately raises is how to steer between a doctrine of mind as no more than a series of acts, on the one hand, and a doctrine of mind as a kind of unitary object, on the other. The solution is to show first of all that there must be a potentiality in the universe, and then to show clearly and in detail that the mind is shot through with that potentiality.


Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Series: Philosophical Explorations


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-2

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pp. 3-16

Contemporary empiricists frequently express their antimetaphysical bias in the style of ordinary language analysis. They say that metaphysical problems may exist, but that we have no reason to believe that they do until it is established that metaphysical issues have not been generated by misinterpreting...

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1. Hume: His Realist Sympathies and Reductionist Convictions

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pp. 17-82

David Hume's philosophy is sometimes an arena for the competing realist and reductionist theories of dispositional properties. He alternately supports the principal elements of both views....

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2. Counterfactual Conditionals

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pp. 83-118

Contemporary logical empiricists are unreconstructed Humeans, and their adaptation of Hume's principles must be considered before it is said categorically that reductionist empiricism is unable to afford a satisfactory metaphysics....

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3. The Existence of Nonintrospectable Mental States

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pp. 119-158

Having secured the ideas of causal sufficiency and necessity and of power against the criticisms of Hume and the logical empiricists, I want to return to the development of the realist theory. One question in particular demands our attention: I...

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4. Real Potentiality

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pp. 159-193

Having settled the question of whether mental states exist, we have all the distinctions that are required for a final characterization of dispositional properties. Dispositions have so far been described as the potentialities which qualify minds and objects to participate in causal relationships, and analysis...

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pp. 194-200

Some recapitulation is expected of us. Our discussion began with an analysis of Hume's theory that abstract ideas are determinate images bound to a power. We decided that Hume admits the reality of powers in order to account for the fact that minds can think of series of ideas when action or an intellectual...


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pp. 201-210


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pp. 211-216

Author Bio

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p. 217-217

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9780809381098
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809328710

Page Count: 226
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Philosophical Explorations