more from Gilbert Harman

Single Idea 3076

[catalogued under 17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 2. Potential Behaviour]

Full Idea

There is no noncircular way to specify dispositions; for they are dispositions to behave given certain situations, and the situations must be include beliefs about the situation, and desires concerning it.


A 'disposition' is potential behaviour, or a tendency to behave in a certain way.

Gist of Idea

Defining dispositions is circular


Gilbert Harman (Thought [1973], 3.3)

Book Reference

Harman,Gilbert: 'Thought' [Princeton 1977], p.41

A Reaction

This is nowadays accepted dogmatically as the biggest objection to behaviourism, but it could be challenged. Your analysis may begin by mentioning beliefs and desires, but if you keep going they may eventually fade out of the picture.