Are Dispositions Reducible?
Molnar (George)
Source: Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 194 (Jan., 1999), pp. 1-17
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Conclusion (Irreducibility Preserved)

  1. The main argument of this paper is directed at functionalist reductionism, which Lewis' new analysis intends to reinforce. Functionalist analyses depend on the distinction between a disposition and its causal base, and I have argued that, the world being as it is, the only candidates for the role of causal base are themselves dispositions. When it comes to the fundamental micro-entities, no suitable properties exist that could serve as a causal base of their dispositions. For the reasons I have given, I reject the usual means of avoiding these conclusions.
  2. Reformed Conditional Analysis (RCA) is an improvement on its predecessors because it preserves the important idea, sacrificed in some other analyses, that dispositions are intrinsic properties of their bearers. It also answers Martin's objection to the conditional analysis, at least for grounded dispositions. This represents progress. RCA does have serious residual defects which should stop one from accepting it as it stands, although further work might yield improvements. But what could be the point of a research programme aimed at improving RCA? If the problem of the missing reduction base has no solution, then it is futile to look for better versions of the causal conditional analysis. For no matter what analytic recipe for reduction one produces, it will not be possible to apply it if the world is so unkind as not to contain a reduction base.

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