What Tends to Be: The Philosophy of Dispositional Modality, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

What Tends to Be

The Philosophy of Dispositional Modality, 1st Edition

By Rani Lill Anjum, Stephen Mumford


194 pages

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pub: 2018-05-29
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People tend to enjoy listening to music or watching television, sleeping at night and celebrating birthdays. Plants tend to grow and thrive in sunlight and mild temperatures. We also know that tendencies are not perfectly regular and that there are patterns in the natural world, which are reliable to a degree, but not absolute. What should we make of a world where things tend to be one way but could be another? Is there a position between necessity and possibility? If there is, what are the implications for science, knowledge and ethics?

This book explores these questions and is the first full-length treatment of the philosophy of tendencies. Anjum and Mumford argue that although the philosophical language of tendencies has been around since Aristotle, there has not been any serious commitment to the irreducible modality that they involve. They also argue that the acceptance of an irreducible and sui generis tendential modality ought to be the fundamental commitment of any genuine realism about dispositions or powers. It is the dispositional modality that makes dispositions authentically disposition-like. Armed with this theory the authors apply it to a variety of key philosophical topics such as chance, causation, epistemology and free will.


"Thisis an admirable book. Anjum and Mumford advance a novel philosophical thesis, they defend it with rigour and ingenuity and explore uncharted territories. Given that the map of the area is currently being drawn there are bound to be inaccuracies and infelicities. But that's the fate of all explorers, philosophical or otherwise. Despite our critical points, Anjum and Mumford have succeeded in producing a thorough, deep and challenging exploration of these metaphysical matters." - Stathis Psillos and Stavros Ioannidis, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Table of Contents


Part 1: Modality

1. Theory: Introducing the Dispositional Modality

2. History: Forebears of the Dispositional Modality

Part 2: Metaphysics

3. Chance: Overdisposed

4. Causation: Causation and Quantum Mechanics (with Fredrik Andersen)

Part 3: Logic

5. Conditionals: Carnap and the Anglo-Austrian Conspiracy against Dispositions

6. Conditional Probability: Conditional Probability from an Ontological Point of View (with Johan Arnt Myrstad)

Part 4: Epistemology

7. Perception: What We Tend to See

8. Metascience: What We Tend to Know

Part 5: Ethics

9. Value: Dispositions and Ethics (with Svein Anders Noer Lie)

10. Free Will: Causation is Not Your Enemy.




About the Authors

Rani Lill Anjum is Research Fellow in Philosophy at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway.

Stephen Mumford is Professor of Philosophy at Durham University, UK and Professor II at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway.

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