Science powers: how Aristotelean are they?. Nancy Cartwright & John Pemberton Venice Aristotle Group, April 2014 . +. Simple science case. -. The earth has the power of gravitational attraction. When this power exercises... It PULLS the electron down.
Nancy Cartwright & John Pemberton
Venice Aristotle Group, April 2014
The earth has the power of gravitational attraction. When this power exercises...
It PULLS the electron down.
The positive charge has the power of Coulomb attraction. When this power exercises...
It PULLS the electron up.
WHAT HAPPENS when both powers exercise at once?
The electron stays in place.
The ARRANGEMENT matters.
Nature fixes what happens when these powers so arranged exercise together... And we can learn how she will do that.
Stable arrangements of powers that, exercising together in that arrangement, produce repeatable processes and new powers.
Need not be mechanical. Can be economic, biological...
Because the power can obtain without being exercised.
Hume denied that there's a distinction between the obtaining of a power and it's exercise.
We need them for the ANALYTIC METHOD so common in science.
The analytic method is only useful if there are rules are for what happens when powers exercise together in given arrangements.
So then, we still have extra-worldly laws fixing what happens.
The causal profile account avoids this but we think at the cost of nonsense: There is no set of mutual manifestation partners. The possible arrangements are not fixed.
Yet we are not prey to the Scholastic jeers: What makes heavy bodies fall? Gravity. What is gravity? That which makes heavy bodies fall.
There is genuine discovery -- of what powers tend to be associated (and in what ways) with what features.
Cf. Segal 2009 in Mind & Language for defense of the analytic connection between a power (disposition) and the activity that counts as it's exercising.
Agent / patient powers in suitable contact ↔ “arrangement matters” (for physical powers)
Activation of power ↔ exercising of power
Change occurs within patient ↔ some overall effect occurs wrt features of recipient system
Change grounds activation of agent & patient power ↔ exercisings of powers combine in the given arrangement to give rise to overall effect
Powers endure through period of changing (rather than disappearing to be replaced by new powers)