scholarly journals The dynamical essence of powers

Synthese ◽  
2021 ◽  
Andrea Roselli ◽  
Christopher Austin

AbstractPowers are properties defined by what they do. The focus of the large majority of the powers literature has been mainly put on explicating the (multifaceted) results of the production of a power in certain (multifaceted) initial conditions: but all this causal complexity is bound to be—and, in fact, it has proved to be—quite difficult to handle. In this paper we take a different approach by focusing on the very activity of producing those multifaceted manifestations themselves. In this paper, we propose an original account of what the essence of a power consists in which stems from a radical reconceptualisation of power-causation according to which counterfactuals are to be explained away by powers, and not vice-versa. We call this approach the dynamical operator account of powers. According to this account, the causal role of powers consists in their ensuring that the ontological transition from a stimulus S to a manifestation M happens. Powers thus have a dynamical essence which consists in the fundamental activity of generating the counterfactuals typically associated with them. We show that if one conceptualises this functional activity as the metaphysical fulcrum around which counterfactual-based causation revolves, one is granted not only an improved methodology to individuate powers but also a better understanding of their knowability, modality and directedness.

2018 ◽  
Vol 77 (4) ◽  
pp. 173-184
Wenxing Yang ◽  
Ying Sun

Abstract. The causal role of a unidirectional orthography in shaping speakers’ mental representations of time seems to be well established by many psychological experiments. However, the question of whether bidirectional writing systems in some languages can also produce such an impact on temporal cognition remains unresolved. To address this issue, the present study focused on Japanese and Taiwanese, both of which have a similar mix of texts written horizontally from left to right (HLR) and vertically from top to bottom (VTB). Two experiments were performed which recruited Japanese and Taiwanese speakers as participants. Experiment 1 used an explicit temporal arrangement design, and Experiment 2 measured implicit space-time associations in participants along the horizontal (left/right) and the vertical (up/down) axis. Converging evidence gathered from the two experiments demonstrate that neither Japanese speakers nor Taiwanese speakers aligned their vertical representations of time with the VTB writing orientation. Along the horizontal axis, only Japanese speakers encoded elapsing time into a left-to-right linear layout, which was commensurate with the HLR writing direction. Therefore, two distinct writing orientations of a language could not bring about two coexisting mental time lines. Possible theoretical implications underlying the findings are discussed.

Christopher Evan Franklin

This chapter lays out the book’s central question: Assuming agency reductionism—that is, the thesis that the causal role of the agent in all agential activities is reducible to the causal role of states and events involving the agent—is it possible to construct a defensible model of libertarianism? It is explained that most think the answer is negative and this is because they think libertarians must embrace some form of agent-causation in order to address the problems of luck and enhanced control. The thesis of the book is that these philosophers are mistaken: it is possible to construct a libertarian model of free will and moral responsibility within an agency reductionist framework that silences that central objections to libertarianism by simply taking the best compatibilist model of freedom and adding indeterminism in the right junctures of human agency. A brief summary of the chapters to follow is given.

Yue Wang ◽  
Zhiguo Tian ◽  
Steffen Nolte ◽  
Alexandra Amann-Hildenbrand ◽  
Bernhard M. Krooss ◽  

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