Further Antidotes: A Reply to Gundersen

ALEXANDER BIRD

Philosophical Quarterly (2000), 229-233

Abstract

In my 'Dispositions and Antidotes', The Philosophical Quarterly, 48 (1998), I raise an objection to the conditional analysis of dispositions, both in its simple formulation and in a more sophisticated version due to David Lewis, The Philosophical Quarterly, 47 (1997). The objection suggests that a disposition may be continuously present and the appropriate stimulus occur without the manifestation occurring, because some outside influence, an antidote, interferes. Gundersen in The Philosophical Quarterly, 50 (2000), argues that my objection rests on an equivocation about which object possesses the disposition and more particularly on an equivocation about the context in which the events referred to take place, and that when the equivocation is resolved the counter-example disappears. I respond by showing that the counter-example does remain if we take contextual and mereological issues into account, and I conclude by remarking that the difference with Lewis depends on whether certain features are seen as significant for the semantics and metaphysics of dispositions or as merely characteristic of the pragmatics of common usage.