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A disposition is a quality of character, a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way that may be learned.

The terms dispositional belief and occurrent belief refer, in the former case, to a belief that is held in the mind but not currently being considered, and in the latter case, to a belief that is currently being considered by the mind.

In Bourdieu's theory of fields, dispositions are the natural tendencies of each individual to take on a specific position in any field. There is no strict determinism through one's dispositions. The habitus is the choice of positions according to one's dispositions. However, in retrospect a space of possibles can always be observed.

A disposition is not a process or event in some duration in time, but rather the state, preparation, or tendency of a structure "in waiting". In the field of possibilities its actual triggering has a statistical value.

In analytic philosophy[edit]

In contemporary analytic philosophy, dispositions have been suggested as having an important role in understanding laws of nature. Dispositionalism is the idea that the dispositions of objects (for instance, the disposition for a wine glass to break if dropped on a hard floor) are a specific and ontologically important set of properties (either universals or tropes) that objects have.

Philosophers who subscribe to this theory include Sydney Shoemaker, Stephen Mumford, Alexander Bird, George Molnar, Brian Ellis, C.B. Martin and John Heil.[1][2] Dispositionalism is offered as an alternative to other accounts of laws of nature including neo-Humean regularity theories and relations-between-universals theory of David Malet Armstrong, Fred Dretske,[3] and Michael Tooley.[4]

In law[edit]

In law, a disposition is a civil or criminal hearing where a case can be resolved.

In educational research[edit]

In educational research, a learning disposition are characteristics or attitudes to learning. These may be learned. Some examples are taking responsibility, grit and persistence when faced with problems.

In religion[edit]

In the Catholic Church[edit]

In Catholic thought, "disposition" has two meanings. Firstly, it may refer to a deliberately practised habit of behaving in a certain way, for example, "a virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good."[5]. Secondly, it may refer to a state of a person that is required for reception of a sacrament, for example, a disposition of genuine repentance is required for the forgiveness of sins in confession.[6]

In the Anglican Communion[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dispositions
  2. ^ Armstrong, D.M. (2010). Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 48–53. ISBN 9780199655915.
  3. ^ Dretske, Fred. "Laws of Nature". Philosophy of Science. 44 (2): 248–268. doi:10.1086/288741.
  4. ^ Tooley, Michael (1977). "The Nature of Laws". Canadian Journal of Philosophy. 7 (4): 667–698.
  5. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1803
  6. ^ Catholic Dictionary, Sacramental dispositions.

External links[edit]