Properties, Powers and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Properties, Powers and Structures

Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism, 1st Edition

Edited by Alexander Bird, Brian Ellis, Howard Sankey


270 pages

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While the phrase "metaphysics of science" has been used from time to time, it has only recently begun to denote a specific research area where metaphysics meets philosophy of science—and the sciences themselves. The essays in this volume demonstrate that metaphysics of science is an innovative field of research in its own right. The principle areas covered are:

  • The modal metaphysics of properties: What is the essential nature of natural properties? Are all properties essentially categorical? Are they all essentially dispositions, or are some categorical and others dispositional?
  • Realism in mathematics and its relation to science: What does a naturalistic commitment of scientific realism tell us about our commitments to mathematical entities? Can this question be framed in something other than a Quinean philosophy?
  • Dispositions and their relation to causation: Can we generate an account of causation that takes dispositionality as fundamental? And if we take dispositions as fundamental (and hence not having a categorical causal basis), what is the ontological ground of dispositions?
  • Pandispositionalism: Could all properties be dispositional in nature?
  • Natural kinds: Are there natural kinds, and if so what account of their nature should we give? For example, do they have essences? Here we consider how these issues may be illuminated by considering examples from reals science, in particular biochemistry and neurobiology.


"I recommend this collection very highly to anyone who wants to become more familiar with contemporary realist metaphysics, its big issues, and the ways in which science can bear on metaphysics." -- Philosophy in Review

Table of Contents

Selected Contents: Part 1: Symposium on Properties 1. The Categorical Dimensions of the Causal Powers Brian Ellis 2. Defending Categoricalism D.M. Armstrong 3. Monistic Dispositional Essentialism Alexander Bird Part 2: Levels of Inquiry 4. Levels of Reality and Scales of Application Patrick McGivern Part 3: Realism in Mathematics 5. Anti-Nominalistic Scientific Realism: A Defence Stathis Psillos 6. Indispensability without Platonism Anne Newstead and James Franklin Part 4: Dispositions and Causal Powers 7. Causal Dispositionalism Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum 8. Powerful Properties and the Causal Basis of Dispositions Max Kistler 9. Four Theories of Pure Dispositions William A. Bauer Part 5: Pan-Dispositionalism 10. The Metaphysics of Pan-Dispositionalism Matthew Tugby 11. The Categorical–Dispositional Distinction Sharon R. Ford 12. Dispositional Essentialism and the Laws of Nature Barbara Vetter Part 6: Natural Kinds 13. The Metaphysics of Determinable Kinds Emma Tobin 14. Scientific Kinds without Essences Corinne L. Bloch

About the Editors

Alexander Bird is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol.

Brian Ellis is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at La Trobe University and Professorial Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne.

Howard Sankey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Metaphysics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Metaphysics
SCIENCE / General