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Title:Some Aspects of the Ontology of Belief
Author(s):Friedman, Lawrence Bruce
Department / Program:Philosophy
Discipline:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Philosophy
Abstract:Since the publication of The Concept of Mind, analytic philosophers have at least paid lip-service to the thesis that mental entities of different sorts belong to different ontological categories. However, few have taken this thesis to heart. Most of those who concern themselves with mental entities work with more-or-less intuitive notions of the various ontological categories. On the other hand, most of those who concern themselves with ontological categories ignore the mental realm. My dissertation takes the above thesis seriously. In it, I answer the question 'To what ontological category do beliefs belong?' The three candidates ontological categories are occurrences, dispositions, and states.
The dissertation's first part consists of accounts of the concepts of an occurrence, a disposition, and a state (each of which is a reasonable modification of the common-sense concept), and a discussion of the relations among the three sets of entities determined by the three concepts. In the second part, I argue that the concept of belief is a dispositional concept because it satisfies the property-in the concept of a disposition. It is often assumed that the conclusive objections to a behavioral disposition analysis of the concept of belief apply to any dispositional analysis of the concept. This is a mistake. The objections, although they apply to some, do not apply to all non-behavioral dispositional analysis of the concept. They do not apply to an analysis that treats a belief as a disposition to acquire tendencies to undergo mental occurrences. It follows from my analyses of the concepts of a disposition and a state that functionalist accounts of mental concepts are dispositional accounts. The arguments advanced against type-physicalism by many functionalists also establish that it is very unlikely that we can characterize beliefs as physical states. The fact that beliefs lack a phenomenology makes it at least epistemically impossible for us to characterize a belief as a mental state. Therefore, it is at best unlikely that the concept of belief should be a state-concept.
Issue Date:1982
Type:Text
Description:258 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/71553
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8302861
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1982


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