(Contemporary) Problems and (Historical) Solutions in the Metaphysics of Powers


02 juin 2021

15h00 - 17h00


The CEFISES Center is pleased to announce the eighth session of the Life & Cognition seminar series in 2020/2021.

Our invited speaker will be Charlotte AlderwickAssociate Head of Department - Philosophy Politics and International Relations, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, UWE Bristol.

The talk will take place on line, on 02/06/21 - 15h00-17h00.


In recent years in contemporary metaphysics there has been a resurgence of interest in the concept of power. Powers are being used to explain the dispositional properties of objects; to explain causality; and to explain the abilities to act which constitute free will, to give just a few examples. There has also been interest in the question of whether an ontology which takes powers as fundamental is possible and desirable. In this paper I want to argue that despite the work which is taking place in this area, there are still some gaps to be filled and some significant work to be done in the contemporary literature before we are in a position to outline and assess a thoroughgoing ontology of powers. I argue that there are problems in the articulation of the view that remain unsolved (for example, the question of whether powers constitute objects), and further argue that it is not yet clear that these power-based theories in different areas of metaphysics are even talking about the same thing (is it really the case that the powers involved in causation are the same thing as the dispositions involved in human free will?). After sketching some particular problems for the view, I argue that the central issue from which these particular problems all follow is that there is not enough attention being paid to the connections between these areas: the approach is piecemeal rather than holistic. I finish by briefly arguing that engaging with figures from the history of philosophy who present power-based ontologies can usefully supplement contemporary work, and using the work of Schelling give some examples of how this could be done.

Charlotte Alderwick will give a talk at UCLouvain, on line. Title of the talk is : Contemporary Problems and Historical Solutions in the Metaphysics of Powers

Upcoming session:

16/06: Arantza Exteberria (San Sebastian)

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