Doxastic Dispositions
: An Essay on the Metaphysics of Belief

  • Niall Paterson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Is belief a dispositional state? This thesis looks at what sense, if any, belief is dispositional, and what that claim amounts to. My focus is on the extent to which dispositions enter into the individuation of belief-content pairs. It has commonly been supposed that dispositions cannot, by themselves, individuate belief-content pairs for at least two reasons. First, due to the influence of functionalist accounts of belief, on which beliefs (despite perhaps bearing dispositional properties) are taken to be the occupants of causal roles. Second, due to the ‘Twin-Earth’ style counterexamples to internalist theories of content. In response to the first, I argue against a functionalist account of belief in favour of a dispositional account. In response to the second, I argue that whilst content externalism shows that beliefs are not individuated in terms of actually possessed dispositions, that belief-content pairs are nonetheless dispositionally individuated, albeit by dispositional ideals, which I take to be a kind of functional norm.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorAlexander Bird (Supervisor) & Jason P Konek (Supervisor)

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