SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Necessary Manifestations
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

There is a tension between two core tenets of the metaphysics of powers: Directedness (powers are directed to their manifestations and depend for their identity upon them) and Independence (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.

Since it can be shown that Independence has to be understood as Type-Independence, those who favour this solution to the tension should be Platonist about universals (see also Tugby 2013).

In this talk I will show that invoking Platonic Universals does not help solving the tension: friends of powers have no reason to adopt Platonic Universals as manifestations.

The objection is very simple. Platonic universals exist necessarily and atemporally. If manifestations are Platonic universals, it follows that either powers can never manifest (if a manifestation is manifested when it is brought about at some spatiotemporal location) or are always manifesting (if a manifestation is manifested simply when it exists). If the former, powers are useless and inert, and if the latter, Independence is violated.

The Platonist will reply that this is an uncharitable reading of her theory. She really meant to say that the instantation of the universal is the manifestation, not the universal itself. There are three plausible ways to cash out this idea. i) The manifestation of a power is not the Platonic universal, but rather its instantiation. ii) 'Manifestation' is ambiguous. It can mean what determines the identity of a power, or what the power brings about. iii) 'Directedness is to be understood as 'tends to instantiate'.

I will show that all these are flawed, and thus argue that friends of powers have no use for Platonic Universals.

Time: 15:20-15:50, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.003

Giacomo Giannini 
(Durham University , UK)

Testability and Meaning deco