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Universals, Laws, and Governance

Tugby, M.

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Proponents of the dispositional theory of properties typically claim that their view is not one that offers a realist, governing conception of laws. My first aim is to show that, contrary to this claim, if one commits to dispositionalism then one does not automatically give up on a robust, realist theory of laws. This is because dispositionalism can readily be developed within a Platonic framework of universals. Second, I argue that there are good reasons for realist dispositionalists to favour a Platonic view. This is because the alternative Aristotelian version of dispositionalism, on which universals are immanent entities, is unstable for various reasons. My final aim is to address a common criticism facing Platonic theories of laws, which is the problem of how external entities can play an explanatory role where the world’s law-like patterns of behaviour are concerned. I argue that the Platonists’ response to the one over many problem can help to shed light on this matter, and a possible solution is sketched, one which makes use of the notions of essence, constitution and ontological dependence.


Tugby, M. (2015). Universals, Laws, and Governance. Philosophical Studies, 173(5), 1147-1163.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 26, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 26, 2015
Publication Date May 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 30, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 26, 2016
Journal Philosophical studies
Print ISSN 0031-8116
Electronic ISSN 1573-0883
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 173
Issue 5
Pages 1147-1163
Keywords Laws, Dispositions, Universals, Platonism, Aristotelianism, Explanation.
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