To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Building on previous chapters’ conclusions, this chapter posits various organizational levels of intentionality and speculates as to how they interconnect through powers-based processes and biological evolutionary developments. These levels of intentionality form an intentionality continuum. The Intentionality Continuum Thesis holds that intentionality is not a local phenomenon, present only in creatures with minds, but a global phenomenon present in fundamental physical phenomena, biological cells, plants, animals and humans, and human societies. So the continuum of intentionality in nature runs from the physical intentionality of fundamental powers to the complex, higher-level psychological powers of organisms as well as social groups. This might require emergent powers, a possibility that is defended and the account of which is inspired by the fusion theory of emergent properties advanced by Paul Humphreys. Given the panintentionality implied by the Intentionality Continuum Thesis, along with some other defensible assumptions, a reasonable though certainly tentative case can be made for pantheism. The chapter, and the book, conclude by identifying open questions.
What accounts for the fact that some physical events occur while others do not? This is a question of physical modality. Three models in contemporary analytic metaphysics have dominated the investigation of physical modality: the Neo-Humean Model, the Universals Model, and the Powers Model. Each model aims to explain, in ontologically conspicuous ways, the unfolding of possibilities in space and time. This chapter explains the Neo-Humean and Universals Models, then shows that while they explicitly deny a place for powers in their fundamental ontologies, they nonetheless implicate powers. That is, they subtly assume the reality of powers. As a result, the Powers Model is the way to go in explaining physical modality. However, there are different ways of conceiving powers. After describing variations of the Powers Model, the chapter returns to the main question posed in the introductory chapter: What is the nature of powers from the inside? Stricter attention to the internality of powers is necessary to better understand the Powers Model and its metaphysical commitments.
This and the next chapter defend the Argument from the Marks of Intentionality: Since powers share relevant marks of intentionality with mental states, powers are intentional properties. After identifying ten marks of intentionality, including those advanced by C. B. Martin and Karl Pfefier at the beginning of the physical intentionality debate, this chapter focuses on applying what are arguably the three essential marks of intentionality: directedness, intentional inexistence, and intentional indeterminacy. Directedness, inherently connected to intentional inexistence, is the main focus here: Just as thoughts are directed toward objects that need not exist, powers are directed toward manifestations that need not occur. The discussion explores what directedness is and is not. It is argued that directedness is a representational phenomenon. Therefore, since powers are directed, they are representational intentional states, contrary to George Molnar’s claim that powers are nonrepresentational intentional states. The concluding section argues that powers, like thoughts, display indeterminacy.
This chapter introduces the two main questions that this book attempts to answer. First: Why powers? Second: What are powers like? It also discusses the overlap between metaphysics and science, some differences between powers and qualities, the relationship between properties and substances, how we can know powers, and different types of powers isms. The chapter then distinguishes between networking and nodal accounts of powers before previewing the central idea of the book: the 3d account of powers (a nodal account), which combines two core theses. The first is the Physical Intentionality Thesis, which concerns the fact of physical intentionality: that the power is directed toward manifestations. The second is the Informational Thesis, which concerns the content of physical intentionality: what the power is for or directed toward. Lastly, a roadmap for the rest of the book is provided.
This chapter explores the metaphysics of systems of powers, which contain no qualities and have at least two powers in a dynamic relation. In order to account for the reality of higher-level properties in the macro world and everyday experience, whether they are powers or qualities, powers must work together. This chapter first delineates different kinds of multilevel systems of properties, specifying how powers and qualities might be related across different systems. Then, building on the idea of powers holism introduced in Chapter 6, this chapter characterizes what it means for powers to form a unified system. Next, the possibility of ontologically emergent properties, particularly qualities, appearing out of a system of powers, is explored. But this assumes that there are genuine qualities, whereas this chapter ultimately suggests that what appear to be genuine qualities are quasi-qualities.
Although the additional marks of intentionality discussed in this chapter are not essential for intentionality, when applied to powers they illuminate various aspects of the nature of powers and help justify the Physical Intentionality Thesis. The additional marks of intentionality include two linguistic marks (referential opacity, lack of truth import), unique intentional objects (the object of directedness could be one of a kind), impossible intentional objects (directedness toward an impossible object), extrinsicness (the object of directedness is extrinsic to the directed state), direction of causation (the object causes the directed state), and direction of fit (directed states have a particular fit in relation to their objects). The chapter’s penultimate section discusses three objections: that physical intentionality is mysterious, that physical intentionality is not sufficiently like mental intentionality, and that powers are directed toward nonexistent manifestations. Lastly, the chapter presents reasons why advocates of both the Universals Model and the Neo-Humean Model of modality should be open to assigning directedness and physical intentionality to properties.
This chapter begins defending the 3d account of powers, which combines directedness (i.e., intentionality) and data (i.e., information) as essential ingredients of dispositions (i.e., powers). The first thesis in the 3d account is the Physical Intentionality Thesis, and it is introduced here. Two supporting arguments for this thesis are previewed: the Argument from the Marks of intentionality (to be elaborated in Chapters 4 and 5) and the Argument from the Unity of Nature (to be elaborated in Chapter 8). Then historical precursors to physical intentionality are discussed, including Brentano’s thesis, the primary model for the Physical Intentionality Thesis. Lastly, an epistemic (versus a metaphysical) interpretation of physical intentionality is critiqued, a teleological view of powers is compared to the Physical Intentionality Thesis, and other related views are explored.
This chapter explores possible differences between powerful qualities and pure powers, argues for the Pure Powers Model, and discusses the problem of being for pure powers. It is argued that powerful qualities are modally indistinguishable from pure powers but have a denser nature. Since pure powers are ontologically simpler than powerful qualities yet equally explanatorily relevant to modality, we should reject powerful qualities. After rejecting the Powerful Qualities Model, the reality of pure powers is defended. If pure powers are to provide a stable basis for physical modality, the problem of their being or grounding during periods of nonmanifestation needs resolution. It is argued that pure powers are self-grounded. A regress argument advanced by Stathis Psillos, which challenges the self-grounding of pure powers, is deflected. Lastly, Point Theory is developed to explain the self-grounding of pure powers.
This chapter continues exploring powers from the inside. The Informational Thesis claims that powers carry representational, nonpropositional, map-like information geared toward their potential manifestations. First, this chapter motivates an ontological connection between information and powers via two arguments, one based on physics and one based on causation. Second, the modality of powers from the inside is illuminated using the blueprinting metaphor advanced by Neil Williams, which centrally involves an informational component. This prompts a more detailed discussion of the nature of information. Third, some important implications of the Informational Thesis are discussed, including its relation to the dispositional modality posited by Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford, the analysis of powers (dispositions), and the power/quality (dispositional/categorical) distinction. The chapter’s conclusion explores how the three d’s of the 3d account are interrelated and form a rich, novel account of powers.