THE KEELE-OXFORD-ST ANDREWS KANTIAN (KOSAK) RESEARCH CENTRE & THE FORUM FOR PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH @
THE SCHOOL OF POLITICS, PHILOSOPHY, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND ENVIRONMENT (SPIRE),
ran the second
2015/16 Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture:
By: Stephen Mumford (University of Nottingham)
On: Tuesday, 3 November 2015
From: 6-7.30 pm
In: CBA0.060, Chancellor’s Building, Keele University
Powers can ground the facts of probability: as a tendency towards a distribution, e.g. a 50/50 propensity is a tendency towards a 50:50 distribution. However, because tendencies can come in degrees, it might be tempting to think that we should explain powers in terms of probabilities, i.e. that each power is a probability of a certain effect. This would suggest that the dispositional modality was reducible to the facts of probability. The possibility of overdisposing shows, however, that there is a difference between having a power to some degree and the probability of the power’s manifestation occurring. The mathematisation of chance has given us probabilties on a bounded scale between 0 and 1 whereas the strength of a power has to be unbounded. No matter how strong a power is, there can always be another that is stronger. This is an in-principle problem, then, of converting propensities to probabilities. Previous attempts, in terms of frequencies, ratios or degrees of belief, have not overcome this. Overdisposing means there can be more than enough for the production of an effect and yet the dispositional modality tells us that the probability of a natural event will always be less than 1.
About the Speaker:
Stephen Mumford is Professor of Metaphysics in the Department of Philosophy as well as Professor II at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB). He is the author of Dispositions (Oxford, 1998), Russell on Metaphysics (Routledge, 2003), Laws in Nature (Routledge, 2004), David Armstrong (Acumen, 2007), Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotion (Routledge, 2011), Getting Causes from Powers (Oxford, 2011 with Rani Lill Anjum), Metaphysics: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012) and Causation: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2013, with Rani Lill Anjum). He is editor of George Molnar’s posthumous Powers: a Study in Metaphysics (Oxford, 2003) and co-editor of Metaphysics and Science (Oxford, 2013 with Matthew Tugby). His PhD was from the University of Leeds in 1994 and he has been at Nottingham since 1995. He has served as Head of the Department of Philosophy, Head of the School of Humanities and Dean of the Faculty of Arts.