Potentiality, modality, and time
Keywords:potentiality, modality, dispositions, possible worlds, properties, incompatibility,
AbstractBarbara Vetter’s project in Potentiality is to articulate and defend a dispositionalist theory of modality based on potentialities. My focus is on the metaphysics of her positive theory. I consider one of Vetter’s main targets, David Lewis’s theory of possible worlds, and use it to distinguish what I call “de re first” approaches from “de dicto first” approaches. This way of framing the disagreement helps shed light on what their respective accounts can intuitively accomplish. In particular, I introduce objections to Vetter’s requirement that the grounds of de dicto modal truths must be routed through time. I also suggest an alternative de dicto first approach that Vetter does not consider, one which does not come saddled with Lewis’s ontology or with Vetter’s issues with de dicto modal truths. Rather, on incompatibilism, modality is grounded on second-order relations between (non-potentialist) properties, e.g. incompatibility or entailment. Defenders of de dicto first approaches, including incompatibilism, can better account for such de dicto modal truths, thus undermining some of the intuitive appeal of Vetter’s theory.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication, with the work five (5) years after publication licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgment of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
After five years from first publication, Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgment of its initial publication in this journal.