We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Matthew Tugby

Tugby, M. (2016). Universals, Laws, and Governance. Philosophical Studies 173(5): 1147-1163.

Author(s) from Durham


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.