What powers are not

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Pechlivanidi, Elina; Psillos, Stathis
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This paper analyses and criticizes the idea that powers are representable as vectors. Mumford and Anjum have recently developed a vector model of powers as part of their account of dispositional causation. The purpose of this model is to represent dispositionality, i.e. a sui generis type of modality introduced by their power-based ontology, as well as to explain various features of their account of causation. In this paper, we criticise both the claim that powers are vectors and the concomitant claim that the composition of causes can be understood as vector addition. We argue that powers cannot be thought of as even analogous to vectors, and that the vector model is simply misleading. We show that the root of the problem is in Mumford and Anjum’s thought that powers have magnitude and direction.