Many thanks to Vasilis Livanios, Jennifer McKitrick and Stephen Mumford for many useful comments on an earlier draft. Though I am taking issue with some of the views of the Late George Molnar, I should stress that my criticism does not detract from my admiration for his philosophical acumen, as this is clearly expressed in is posthumously published book “Powers”.
What Do Powers Do When They Are Not Manifested?*
Version of Record online: 29 MAY 2007
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Volume 72, Issue 1, pages 137–156, January 2006
How to Cite
Psillos, S. (2006), What Do Powers Do When They Are Not Manifested?. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 72: 137–156. doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2006.tb00494.x
- Issue online: 29 MAY 2007
- Version of Record online: 29 MAY 2007
In the present paper, I offer a conceptual argument against the view that all properties are pure powers. I claim that thinking of all properties as pure powers leads to a regress. The regress, I argue, can be solved only if non-powers are admitted. The kernel of my thesis is that any attempt to answer the title question in an informative way will undermine a pure-power view of properties. In particular, I focus my critique on recent arguments in favour of pure powers by the Late George Molnar and Jennifer McKitrick. The lines of defence of the friends of powers converge on what I call ‘the ultimate argument for powers’, viz., that current physics entails (or supports) the view that the fundamental properties (spin, mass, charge) are ungrounded powers. I take issue with this argument and make a modest suggestion: that the evidence from current physics is inconclusive.