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"Processes and Powerful Persistence" Dr Anne Sophie Meincke (Spann), (University of Exeter)

Egenis Seminar

An Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences seminar
Date20 May 2015
Time15:00 to 16:30
PlaceByrne House

Recent years have seen a revival of the idea that the entities existing in our world possess irreducible dispositions and powers by means of which they cause changes in the world. No longer being an outsider position, dismissible as obsolete and at odds with science, dispositional realism (‘dispositionalism’) has established itself as a viable and commonsensically appealing alternative to the hitherto predominant anti-realistic accounts of causation in the Humean tradition and, what is more, as a promising new approach to metaphysics in general. In my talk, I shall take these latter ambitions seriously by exploring the implications of dispositionalism for persistence theory. Given that things have irreducible powers and dispositions, how ought we to think about the way they exist over time? In particular, should we assume they persist by being wholly present at different times (‘endurance) or rather by having different temporal parts (‘perdurance’)? Dealing with two opposing proposals recently put forward by Stephen Mumford and Neil E. Williams, I will argue that the profile of ‘powerful’ persistence crucially depends on how one conceptualizes the processes involved in the manifestation of powers. As this is obviously not determined per se by subscribing to some view labelled ‘powers view’, further discussion is needed as to what processes are and to which kind of process theory a powers metaphysics should commit itself in order to be convincing.


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