Structural Powers

Anna Marmodoro

In this paper I will address the question of whether Aristotelian substantial forms are powers and if they are, how they compare to non-substantial powers.  My investigation stems from my general approach to Aristotle, and more generally to ancient Greek philosophers, namely from my Power Structuralist Ontologies perspective ( 

I will first address accounts that have been offered of composite powers in contemporary metaphysics, and critically discuss aspects of these accounts that are relevant to my own concerns.  In particular, I will consider Michael Rea’s account, in ‘Hylomorphism Reconditioned’ (2011), and point out difficulties that arise with his explanation of the emergence and the unity of natures of objects, and with the role he attributes to them. 

I will further discuss the account offered by Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum, in Getting Causes From Powers (2011), of the holistic composition of powers.  Furthermore, I will examine their development of the concurrent causal efficacy of powers, as well as the way that powers are localised, according to their account. 

I will finally address Alexander Bird’s account of structural properties in his Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties (2007), primarily to point out different concerns between his account and the one I will offer of structural powers. 

I will then develop my own account of structural powers, that derives from Aristotle’s theory of substantial forms.