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Sungho Choi's Research




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Topic: Dispositional Properties

"Can Opposing Dispositions be Co-instantiated?" , forthcoming in Erkenntnis

Is it possible that an object x has a disposition D but, even if the characteristic stimulus obtains, it would not manifest D because one of its own intrinsic properties would immediately block the manifestation? In other words, is it possible to ‘fink' or ‘mask' dispositions by intrinsic properties? Some vehemently argue that it is. But the possibility of finking or masking dispositions intrinsically is naturally conducive to the possibility of two opposing dispositions' being co-instantiated by one and the same object at the same time. They are therefore committed to the second possibility. But I will argue below that examples that are claimed to corroborate it all fail.


"What is a Dispositional Masker?" , forthcoming in Mind

Manley and Wasserman's criticism of the conditional analysis of disposition is basically that, whilst the problem of maskers for it invites the strategy of getting specific, this strategy creates more problems than it solves. But it will come to light that their understanding of the phenomenon of masking and the strategy of getting specific alike is deeply defective, which wreaks havoc with their principal critique of the conditional analysis of dispositions.


"Intrinsic Finks and Dispositional/Categorical Distinction" , forthcoming in Nous

The central theme of this paper is the dispositional/categorical distinction that has been one of the top agendas in contemporary metaphysics. I will first develop from my previously proposed semantic account of dispositions what I think the correct formulation of the dispositional/categorical distinction in terms of counterfactual conditionals. It will be argued that my formulation does not have the shortcomings that have plagued previously proposed ones. Then I will turn my attention to one of its consequences, the thesis that dispositional properties are not susceptible to intrinsic finks. This thesis was previously advanced by me and has ever since stirred up a big controversy, endorsed by some philosophers like Handfield, Bird, and Cohen but rejected by others like Clarke and Fara. Against this background, I will remedy my defense of the impossibility of intrinsically finkable dispositions and then refute Clarke's apparently powerful criticisms of it. And so the upshot is that it is much more reasonable to hold on to the thesis that dispositions are intrinsically unfinkable. This will have the effect of putting the dispositional/categorical distinction on firmer and more secure ground.


2012. "Dispositions" , The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

(co-authoured with Michael Fara)


2011. "Finkish Dispositions and Contextualism" , Monist 94: 103-120

Charlie Martin's famous examples of dispositional finks have worked as a driving force for the evolution of our understanding of dispositional properties. Although it has been thoroughly discussed by a number of philosophers time and again, not all of its philosophical lessons have been fully drawn from it yet. In this paper, I will highlight what we can learn about the context-sensitivity of dispositional ascriptions by reflecting upon what I call the contextual strategy for Martin's examples. This will bring us to the rather unexpected conclusion that the context of dispositional ascription has no great presence on an appropriate approach to Martin's examples.


2010. "Dispositions and bogus counterexamples: Reply to Lee" , Philosophia 38: 579-588

This paper discusses Lee's argument that Lewis's reformed conditional analysis of dispositions is preferable to the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. Lee's argument is basically that there are some examples that can be adequately handled by Lewis's analysis but cannot by the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. But I will reveal that, when carefully understood, they spell no trouble for the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, failing to serve a motivating role for Lewis's analysis.


2009. “The Conditional Analysis of Dispositions and the Intrinsic Dispositions Thesis?, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78: 563-590

The idea that dispositions are an intrinsic matter has been popular among contemporary philosophers of dispositions. In this paper I will first state this idea as exactly as possible. I will then examine whether it poses any threat to the two current versions of the conditional analysis of dispositions, namely, the simple and reformed conditional analysis of dispositions. The upshot is that the intrinsic nature of dispositions, when properly understood, doesn't spell trouble for either of the two versions of the conditional analysis of dispositions. Along the way, I will propose an extensionally correct and practically useful criterion for identifying nomically intrinsic dispositions and criticize one objection raised by Lewis against the simple conditional analysis of dispositions.


2008. “Dispositional Properties and Counterfactual Conditionals?, Mind 117: 795-841

For the last several decades, dispositional properties have been on e of the main topics in metaphysics. Still, however, there is little agreement among contemporary metaphysicians on the nature of dispositional properties. Apparently, though, the majority of them have reached the consensus that dispositional ascriptions cannot be analyzed in terms of simple counterfactual conditionals. In this paper it will be brought to light that this consensus is wrong. Specifically, I will argue that the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, which is generally thought to be dead, is in fact an adequate analysis of dispositions. I will go on to discuss Mumford's view of dispositions from the perspective of the simple conditional analysis of dispositions.


2008. “The Incompleteness of Dispositional Predicates?, Synthese 163: 157-174

Elizabeth Prior claims that dispositional predicates are incomplete in the sense that they have more than one argument place. To back up this claim, she offers a number of arguments that involve such ordinary dispositional predicates as “is fragile? “is soluble? and so on. In this paper, I will first demonstrate that one of Prior's arguments that “is fragile?is an incomplete predicate is mistaken. This, however, does not immediately mean that Prior is wrong that “is fragile?is an incomplete predicate. On the contrary, I maintain that she has offered another valid argument that does indeed establish the claim that “is fragile?is an incomplete predicate. I will argue further that Prior is right that “is soluble?is an incomplete predicate. Then does this mean that all dispositional predicates are incomplete? I don't think so. I will suggest that there are complete dispositional predicates that have no more than one argument place. Finally, by relying on my discussion of the incompleteness of dispositional predicates, I will attempt to provide a better understanding of the context-dependence and intrinsic nature of dispositional ascriptions.


2006. “The Simple vs. Reformed Conditional Analysis of Dispositions?, Synthese 148: 369-379

Lewis claims that Martin's cases indeed refute the simple conditional analysis of dispositions and proposes the reformed conditional analysis that is purported to overcome them. In this paper I will first argue that Lewis's defense of the reformed analysis can be understood to invoke the concepts of disposition-specific stimulus and manifestation. I will go on to argue that advocates of the simple analysis, just like Lewis, can also defend their analysis from alleged counterexamples including Martin's cases by invoking the concepts of disposition-specific stimulus and manifestation. This means that Lewis's own necessary defense of the reformed analysis invalidates his motivation of it. Finally, I will argue that we have a good reason to favor the simple analysis over Lewis's analysis.


2005. “Do Categorical Ascriptions Entail Counterfactual Conditionals??, The Philosophical Quarterly 55: 495-503

Mumford, in his influential book, argues that we can distinguish between dispositional and categorical properties in terms of entailing his “conditional conditionals?that involve the concept of ideal condition. In this paper I aim at defending Mumford's criterion for distinguishing between dispositional and categorical properties. To be specific, I will argue that no categorical ascriptions entail Mumford's conditional conditionals.


2005. “Dispositions and Mimickers?, Philosophical Studies 122:183-18

In this paper I put forward a counterexample involving fragility against Lewis's reformed conditional analysis of dispositions and then refute a possible response by Lewis. And I go on to argue that Lewis can overcome the counterexample by excluding fragility-mimickers from the stimulus appropriate to the concept of fragility.


2003. “Improving Bird's Antidotes?, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81: 573-580

In this paper I will first consider Bird's cases against the conditional analysis of dispositions and defend them from Gundersen's objection. This does not mean that I believe that Bird's cases are successful. To the contrary, I take it that we can save the conditional analysis from Bird's cases by taking Lewis's two-step approach to dispositions. However, I will go on to argue that if Bird's cases are supplemented with the assumption that dispositions are intrinsic matter, they are able to do what they are intended to do.



Topic: Causation

2007. “Causation and Counterfactual Dependence?, Erkenntnis 67: 1-16

Recently Stephen Barker has raised stimulating objections to the thesis that, roughly speaking, if two events stand in a relation of counterfactual dependence, they stand in a causal relation. As Ned Hall says, however, this thesis constitutes the strongest part of the counterfactual analysis of causation. Therefore, if successful, Barker's objections will undermine the cornerstone of the counterfactual analysis of causation, and hence give us compelling reasons to reject the counterfactual analysis of causation. I will argue, however, that they do not withstand scrutiny.


2007. “Causes and Probability-Raisers of Processes?, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85: 81-91

Schaffer proposes a new account of probabilistic causation that synthesizes the probability-raising and process-linkage views on causation. The driving idea of Schaffer's account is that, although an effect does not invariably depend on its cause, a process linked to the effect does. In this paper, however, I will advance counterexamples to Schaffer's account and then demonstrate that Schaffer's possible responses to them do not work. Finally, I will argue that my counterexamples suggest that the driving idea of Schaffer's account is misdirected.


2006. “Understanding the Influence Theory of Causation: A Critique of Strevens?, Erkenntnis 62: 99-116

In this paper, I will first clarify Lewis's influence theory of causation by relying on his theory of events. And then I will consider Michael Strevens's charge against the sufficiency of Lewis's theory. My claim is that it is legitimate but does not pose as serious a problem for Lewis's theory as Strevens thinks because Lewis can surmount it by limiting the scope of his theory to causation between concrete events. Michael Strevens raises an alleged counterexample to the necessity of Lewis's theory that, if successful, would have a very important advantage over other alleged counterexamples. But I will assert that it is simply mistaken. My defense of Lewis's theory will shed interesting light on the relationship between Lewis's theory and Salmon's mark theory.


2003. “The Conserved Quantity Theory of Causation and Closed Systems?, Philosophy of Science 70: 510-30

Advocates of the conserved quantity (CQ) theory of causation have their own peculiar problem with conservation laws. Since they analyze causal process and interaction in terms of conserved quantities that are in turn defined as physical quantities governed by conservation laws, they must formulate conservation laws in a way that does not invoke causation, or else circularity threatens. In this paper I will propose an adequate formulation of a conservation law that serves CQ theorists' purpose.


2002 “Causation and Gerrymandered World Lines: A Critique of Salmon?, Philosophy of Science 69: 105-117

In this paper I examine Salmon's response to two counterexamples against his conserved quantity (CQ) theory of causation. The first counterexample that I examine involves a time-wise gerrymandered world line of a series of patches of wall that is absorbing energy as a result of being illuminated in an astrodome. Salmon says that since the gerrymandered world line does not fulfill his “no-interaction requirement? his CQ theory does not suffer from the counterexample. But I will argue that his response fails both at a theoretical level and at a practical level. In so doing I point out a problem for CQ theorists' definition of a causal interaction. The second counterexample is concerned with a time-wise gerrymandered world line of a series of patches that is in shadow in Hitchcock's well-known example. Salmon's response is based on a principle that Salmon thinks is derivable from the concept of a conserved quantity. However, I argue that the principle has a counterexample.


2002. “The ‘Actual Events' Clause in Noordhof's Account of Causation?, Analysis 62: 41-46

Recently, Noordhof (1999) developed his account of indeterministic causation from the PCA account of deterministic causation, which includes the following "actual events" requirement:

(II') For any superset of ?, ?*, if e2 probabilistically ?*-depends upon e1, then every event upon which e2 probabilistically ?*-depends is an actual event.

Noordhof formulated (II') by modifying the requirement that every event upon which e2 probabilistically ?-depends is an actual event. I will argue that Noordhof's motivating argument for the actual events requirement fails and that another motivating argument Noordhof might offer also fails.


Book Chapters


2009. 'Purely Dispositional World' in Rob Vanderbeeken and Michael Esfeld (eds.), Analytic Metaphysics, World Scientific.

In this paper I will discuss Richard Holton's defence of dispositionalism that all properties are essentially dispositional. By way of countering the objection that dispositionalism generates an infinite regress, Holton attempts to advance a consistent model of possible worlds where all truths are dispositional truths. But I will argue that the simple conditional analysis of dispositions, on which Holton's model is built, is so mistaken that Holton's model fails to serve his goal. What is more, it is not likely that we can successfully materialize the driving idea of Holton's model on an appropriately revised version of the conditional analysis of dispositions. Finally, I will discuss the lesson on the methodology of philosophy that we can learn from Holton's failure.


Book Reviews in English


2011. Review of A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism by Anjan Chakravartty , British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62(2):443-451

2006. Review of Bayesian Nets and Causality by Jon Williamson , Mind 115: 502-506



Work in Progress