L. Jonathan Cohen

in The Probable and The Provable

Published in print December 1977 | ISBN: 9780198244127
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680748 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy


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This chapter first provides some difficulties in current truth-functional analyses of dispositions. The truth-functional analysis of dispositional statements encounters difficulties that neither Quine's nor Carnap's proposal overcomes. Every dispositional statement encapsulates a statement about an inductive, not a mathematical probability. But statements about inductive support or inductive probability are open to both a nominalist and a realist interpretation. The difference between an Austinian and a Blackstonian interpretation of legal reasoning from precedent is analogous, but adopting an anti-realist position on one such issue does not necessarily commit a philosopher to adopting this position on another, analogous issue. The nominalist interpretation is not superior on grounds of ontological economy, because it involves a principle of plenitude. But it has greater epistemological coherence. So the analysis of dispositions in terms of inductive probabilities does not necessitate any retreat from anti-realism.

Keywords: dispositions; truth-functional analysis; Quine; Carnap; inductive support; inductive probability; legal reasoning; dispositional statement

Chapter.  7758 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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