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"Rational Scientific Theories from Theism"

 

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Previous: 4.1 Substance Up: 4. Power and Substance Next: 4.3 Scientific analyses of powers or dispositions

4.2 Dispositions

In order to understand causation and develop our generative realism, we must recognize that dispositions have a leading role in all kinds of causation processes. Dispositions such as fragility, mass, and electric charge are those features of a thing which describe what it can do, not just what it is categorically. Understanding the nature of dispositions will help in comprehending the theses of this book.

Dispositional properties of objects--also called propensities or causal powers--appear to be crucial parts of any kind of causal explanation, whether we talk about the fragility of complex objects or about the mass and charge of an individual electron. We include as propensities those dispositions which have probabilistic manifestations.

There has been considerable debate among philosophers concerning the true basis of the dispositional properties of objects. Are dispositions grounded in a base reality as described by physicists, or do they exist on their own in some way? And if physical laws are sufficient to explain the behavior of objects, are dispositions really needed in themselves, or can they be eliminated with the help of Occam’s razor? Or, is it perhaps the other way around, with physical laws depending on dispositions? In order to get some answers, let us see how dispositions are analyzed and explained by science.


Previous: 4.1 Substance Up: 4. Power and Substance Next: 4.3 Scientific analyses of powers or dispositions

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