An Evolutionary Explanation of Self-Deception

Falsafeh 35 (3) (2007)
Abstract: In Chapter 4 of his "Self-Deception Unmasked" (SDU), Al Mele considers several (attempted) empirical demonstrations of self-deception. These empirical demonstrations work under the conception of what Mele refers to as the 'dual-belief requirement', in which an agent simultaneously holds a belief p and a belief ~p. Toward the end of this chapter, Mele considers the argument of one biologist and anthropologist, Robert Trivers, who describes what he takes to be an evolutionary explanation for coming to form false beliefs. Mele argues briefly that Trivers's account is no more explanatory than a similar one that does not include the dual-belief requirement. I present a case describing Trivers' analysis, show how Mele might reply to it. After briefly explaining Mele's sufficient conditions for entering self-deception from Chapter 3 of SDU, I'll consider what it means to hold the dual-belief. I'll then consider what I take to be a class of cases of self-deception which rely on genetic determinism, which I take to satisfy the dual-belief condition.
Keywords Self-Deception  Mele  Trivers
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