The Regress of Pure Powers

Philosophical Quarterly (2007)

(Winner of the Philosophical Quarterly essay prize 2006)

Dispositional monism is the view that natural properties and relations are `pure powers'. It is objected that dispositional monism involves some kind of vicious or otherwise unpalatable regress or circularity. I examine ways of making this objection precise. The most pressing interpretation is that is fails to make the identities of powers determinate. I demonstrate that this objection is in error. It does however puts certain constraints on what the structure of fundamental properties is like. I show what a satisfactory structure would be.