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The Problem of Retention

Tugby, Matthew

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A popular version of anti-Humeanism is one that views fundamental properties as being irreducibly dispositional in nature, and it is a view to which I am attracted. Proponents of this view typically object to Humean regularity theories of laws on the basis that they do not explain why our world is regular rather than chaotic from moment to moment. It is thought that, for this reason, Humeanism does not provide firm enough foundations for induction. However, in this paper I argue that it is far from clear how these anti-Humeans can themselves explain this regularity. This is because it is far from clear how they can explain why the entities in our world do not change their dispositional properties arbitrarily over time. This is a neglected problem, which I call the retention problem. In an attempt to solve this problem, several naturalistic explanations of retention are explored. Unfortunately, none of these explanations is free of problems, showing that dispositional forms of anti-Humeanism may not have as many advantages as some have assumed where the problem of induction is concerned.


Tugby, M. (2016). The Problem of Retention. Synthese, 194(6), 2053-2075.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 29, 2016
Online Publication Date Feb 13, 2016
Publication Date Feb 13, 2016
Deposit Date Feb 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 13, 2017
Journal Synthese
Print ISSN 0039-7857
Electronic ISSN 1573-0964
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 194
Issue 6
Pages 2053-2075
Public URL


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