Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 34, 2009

David Hunter
Pages 243-262

Beliefs and Dispositions

This paper is about the dispositional difference that demonstrative and indexical beliefs make. More specifically, it is about the dispositional difference between my believing that NN is P (where I am NN) and my believing that I, myself, am P. Identifying a dispositional difference in this kind of case is especially challenging because those beliefs have the very same truth conditions. My question is this: how can a difference in belief that makes no difference to one’s conception of the world nonetheless make a difference to one’s actions and reactions? I will argue that the dispositions associated with indexical beliefs are best of thought of as like belief revision policies: they make no difference to the content of our conception of the world, but they govern how we can change and revise that conception, and in so doing contribute to making rational action possible. Seeing all of this will help us to better understand how it is that first-person indexical beliefs manifest self-consciousness.