Conceivability arguments,properties, and powers:A new defense of dispositionalism

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Dispositionalists maintain that the essence of a property is determined by the powers it confers upon its bearers and, as a result, that there is a necessary connection between properties and their powers. Contingentists, in contrast, maintain that the connection is contingent. The ability to conceive of a property as failing to confer some of its powers is often cited as an objection against dispositionalism. The standard dispositionalist response to this objection is to redescribe the imagined scenario so that it no longer serves as a threat. Using the literature on phenomenal concepts as inspiration, I develop a new defense of dispositionalism that echoes Brian Loar's (1990) response to conceivability arguments against physicalism. Not only can Loar's general strategy be usefully applied to this new context, there is a sense in which that strategy works better here than it does in the original context in which Loar deployed it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-370
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Conceivability arguments
  • Dispositionalism
  • Properties and powers
  • The phenomenal concept strategy


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