République des Savoirs

Laboratoire transdisciplinaire du CNRS, ENS et du Collège de France

Site Web : Mathesis page

Axes de recherche :

Titre de thèse :

« World’s Potentialities :
Dispositions, Structure and Modality »

Directeurs de thèse :
Jean-Pascal Anfray (ENS)
Cotutelle : Barbara Vetter (FU Berlin)

Année académique d’inscription :


We propose, in this project, a study that falls within the field of metaphysics. According to a definition by C. Tiercelin (2011b, p.16), by metaphysics, we must essentially understand ontology in the sense of general metaphysics, that is to say 1) the study of our ontological commitments and of what there is in reality; and 2) more broadly, “the study of the most general characteristics of what there is and the most general way in which the things there are relate to each other”. The question of modality, that is the study of the possible and the necessary, is one of the central and classical questions of metaphysics and is undergoing an important revival in contemporary analytic philosophy. We propose in this context to elaborate an alternative to the realist theory of possible worlds which presents important intrinsic difficulties. We propose instead a dispositionalist conception, whose specificity is to be holistic: it takes the world, in its globality, as the only subject of the metaphysical modality. The world seems indeed to present dispositions which are proper to it, and from which we can then understand its modalities. By world, we propose to designate the natural universe, that is to say the whole of all that exists materially, conceived as structured by physical laws and symmetries which we may consider as originally modal. Methodologically based on the metaphysics of science, our objective will be to show that such a theory can adequately (from both an intensional and extensional point of view) account for our intuitions of a priori metaphysical possibilities and necessities.

Dispositions ; Powers ; Natural Modalities ; Metaphysics of Modality ; Metaphysics of Science ; Possible Worlds ; non-Humeanism ; Laws of Nature ; Properties ; Primitivism ; Potentiality ; Potentialism ; Actualism ; Hardcore Actualism.