The Viability of a Pure-Power Ontology

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Ford, Sharon R
conference paper description
In accounting for the objects and properties of the manifest world, issues include the fundamentality, causal efficacy and ontological robustness of the dispositional (powers, potentials, capacities) versus the non-dispositional (categorical, qualitative). Concerning fundamentality, the available options seem to be that: (i) dispositional and categorical properties are different kinds, both fundamental; (ii) dispositional and categorical properties are one and the same, and fundamental; (iii) only categorical properties are fundamental while dispositional properties, if they exist, are higher-order; and (iv) only dispositional properties are fundamental while categorical properties, if they exist, are higher-order. The viability of option (iv), a pure-power ontology, has met detracting arguments from several quarters. This paper outlines why the fourth option appears nonetheless attractive and provides a defence for its credibility by suggesting how the manifestly qualitative world can be explained without recourse to fundamental categorical properties.