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The Probable and The Provable$
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L. Jonathan Cohen

Print publication date: 1977

Print ISBN-13: 9780198244127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198244127.001.0001

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(p.324) 23 Dispositions
The Probable and The Provable

L. Jonathan Cohen

Oxford University Press

This chapter first provides some difficulties in current truth-functional analyses of dispositions. The truth-functional analysis of dispositional statements encounters difficulties that neither Quine's nor Carnap's proposal overcomes. Every dispositional statement encapsulates a statement about an inductive, not a mathematical probability. But statements about inductive support or inductive probability are open to both a nominalist and a realist interpretation. The difference between an Austinian and a Blackstonian interpretation of legal reasoning from precedent is analogous, but adopting an anti-realist position on one such issue does not necessarily commit a philosopher to adopting this position on another, analogous issue. The nominalist interpretation is not superior on grounds of ontological economy, because it involves a principle of plenitude. But it has greater epistemological coherence. So the analysis of dispositions in terms of inductive probabilities does not necessitate any retreat from anti-realism.

Keywords:   dispositions, truth-functional analysis, Quine, Carnap, inductive support, inductive probability, legal reasoning, dispositional statement

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