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Nature's MetaphysicsLaws and Properties$
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Alexander Bird

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199227013

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199227013.001.0001

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Dispositional Essentialism at the Laws of Nature

Dispositional Essentialism at the Laws of Nature

(p.43) 3 Dispositional Essentialism at the Laws of Nature
Nature's Metaphysics

Alexander Bird (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter commences with the claim — which originates with Shoemaker — that fundamental natural properties are potencies, i.e., they have dispositional essences. Following Swoyer, it is explained how this dispositional essentialism about properties leads to necessitarianism about laws. Strong necessitarianism — the view that all possible laws hold in all possible worlds — is explored in detail and an ante rem conception of universals is defended against Armstrong's criticisms. It is shown how dispositional essentialism can account for ceteris paribus laws, and the question whether the fundamental laws of nature are strict or ceteris paribus is raised in the light of the earlier discussion of dispositions.

Keywords:   necessitarianism, universal, ceteris paribus law, Armstrong, Shoemaker, Swoyer

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