Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2020-21, Session 7

The Fundamentality of Fundamental Powers
Joaquim Giannotti (University of Birmingham)

13 November 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given in a mixed presence regime

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia) & live-streamed

Abstract: Dispositional essentialism is the view that all or many fundamental properties are essentially dispositional, or powers. The literature on the dispositional essence of powers is abundant. In contrast, the question of how to understand the fundamentality of fundamental powers has received scarce interest. Therefore, the fundamentality of powers stands in need of clarification. There are three main conceptions of the fundamental, namely as that which is: (i) metaphysically independent; or (ii) belonging to a minimally complete basis; or (iii) perfectly natural. Here I present and discuss each of these approaches from the viewpoint of dispositional essentialism. I show that (i) is incompatible with the metaphysics of powers and (ii) – (iii) have more drawbacks than merits. Therefore, the dispositional essentialist should favour a different approach. To this end, I defend a primitivist conception of the absolute fundamentality of powers, which has the virtues of (i) – (iii) but none of the vices.

Free Attendance, but preregistration required: