The Mereology of Potentiality (Thursday - Week 3, TT19)

mereology of potentiality

There is a well-known tension between two core tenets of the metaphysics of powers: Directedness (the idea that powers are directed to their manifestations and depend for their identity upon them) and Independence (the idea that powers can fail to manifest). A reading of Independence as stating that manifestations can fail to exist, coupled with some plausible background assumptions, leads to contradiction. In order to avoid the contradiction, it is common to maintain that powers metaphysics are committed to the existence of unmanifested manifestations, and that these enjoy a sui generis status as long as they are unmanifested – the most common proposal is that they are uninstantiated universals. In this paper, I will propose a new solution to the puzzle concerning the status of unmanifested manifestations. Starting with an analogy with Williamson's mere logical existents, I develop a four-category theory which best accounts for unmanifested manifestations. I then argue that the received universals-based solution is flawed, and the so-called 'Physical Intentionality' route is not viable, and hence that my proposal is a better overall framework for a metaphysics of powers.

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The Mereology of Potentiality Seminar Convenors: Anna Marmodoro and Andrea Roselli