Circularity and causation in dispositionalism

Daniel Jacob Flores, University of Texas at El Paso


I wish to present a narrow discussion of Bird's and Mumford's basic positions on their versions of dispositionalism. I think that they are correct to point to the threat of circularity and regress but I do not believe that they have successfully argued away the problem. I begin by offering a very brief account of dispositions and three general criticisms. The goal is to show that causation is central to a satisfactory account of dispositionalism. Next, I outline Mumford's and then Bird's general positions on dispositions. What this will show is the importance of the regress/circularity objection. Both philosophers understand the importance of the regress/circularity objection in talk of dispositions and do their best to answer it. Mumford's answer to the regress/circularity objection rests on everyday knowledge of the world. Bird's answer depends on an argument for supervenience. My claim is that neither succeeds. I conclude by reiterating that for an account of dispositions to be meaningful one must successfully answer the regress/circularity objection.

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Recommended Citation

Flores, Daniel Jacob, "Circularity and causation in dispositionalism" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1477782.