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Barbara Vetter

Barbara Vetter

Director, Freie Universität Berlin

Metaphysics and epistemology

I am professor of theoretical philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin. My research centers around the modal properties of objects - such as abilities and dispositions - and the role that they play for the metaphysics and epistemology of modality. I have attempted to rehabilitate the (roughly) Aristotelian notion of a potentiality in a book that is, unsurprisingly, called "Potentiality" (OUP 2015), by arguing that it can serve most of the purposes that philosophers have assigned to possible worlds. Within the Human Abilities project, I will pursue two lines of research. One is the metaphysics of abilities: how do abilities differ from other potentialities, such as dispositions? How can we capture their distinctive element of activity, and how do cognitive and practical abilities relate to each other? The second line concerns the epistemology of abilities: how do we know about our own abilities? Drawing on literature from developmental psychology to the philosophy of action and of perception, I hope to argue that knowledge of our own abilities is very basic, and can indeed serve as a basis for our modal knowledge in general. My papers can be found on my PhilPeople profile

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, German Research Foundation