more from Daniel Dennett

Single Idea 3161

[catalogued under 17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 3. Intentional Stance]

Full Idea

If something has beliefs only if something else is disposed to "treat it" (i.e. think of it) as though it does, then we seem at least to have an infinite regress of appeals to believers.


An 'infinite regress' is an explanation that never ends, because it always requires a further explanation.

Gist of Idea

If mind is just an explanation, the explainer must have beliefs


comment on Daniel Dennett (works [1985]) by Georges Rey - Contemporary Philosophy of Mind 3.2.1

Book Reference

Rey,Georges: 'Contemporary Philosophy of Mind' [Blackwell 1997], p.79

A Reaction

This sounds like a serious difficulty for behaviourists, but is not insurmountable. We need a community of interlocking behaviours, with a particular pattern of behaviour being labelled (for instrumental convenience) as 'beliefs'.