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Summary As paradigmatic symptoms of madness, delusions come in various forms and with diverse contents. The poster child of the current literature is the Capgras delusion: the patient may say with certainty that someone they are familiar with, such as their partner, is replaced by an imposter. Philosophical discussion of delusions tends to revolve around three groups of questions: (1) what are delusions? Are delusions beliefs or some other kinds of mental states? Suppose they are beliefs, what distinguish them from other forms of beliefs?; (2) How can we understand or explain the formation and maintenance of delusions? Where are the contents of delusions from? Why do patients adopt them in the first place? Why do patients not reject their delusions in light of counterevidence?; (3) How should we understand the relationship between patients’ delusions and their other mental states and actions? And what are the implications for our understanding of patients' rationality, agency, moral standing, legal status, and so on? 
Key works At the centre of the literature is the question of how can we understand or explain the formation and maintenance of delusions. The most influential account is the two-factor theory, according to which two distinct factors, i.e. departures from normality, are needed to explain a delusion. Factor 1 may be the patient’s anomalous experience that explains the content of the delusion, and Factor 2 may be some impairment of the patient’s hypothesis evaluation system that explains the adoption and maintenance of the delusion (Coltheart & Davies 2021Davies & Egan 2013Aimola Davies & Davies 2009Davies et al 2001). Other accounts include the one-factor theory (Maher 1988; Noordhof & Sullivan-Bissett 2021), the phenomenological theory (Sass & Pienkos 2013; Feyaerts et al 2021), the cognitive-bias theory (Ward & Garety 2019), the predictive processing theory (Corlett et al 2016), the imagining theory (Currie 2000), and the social theory (Bell et al 2021).

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  1. Spinozan Doxasticism About Delusions.Federico Bongiorno - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    The Spinozan theory of belief fixation holds that mentally representing truth-apt propositions leads to immediately believing them. In this paper, I explore how the theory fares as a defence of doxasticism about delusions (the view that they are beliefs). Doxasticism has been criticised on the grounds that delusions typically do not abide by rational standards that we expect beliefs to conform to. If belief fixation is Spinozan, I argue, these deviations from rationality are not just compatible with, but supportive of, (...)
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  2. Monothematic Delusions and the Limits of Rationality.Adam Bradley & Quinn Hiroshi Gibson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Monothematic delusions are delusions whose contents pertain to a single subject matter. Examples include Capgras delusion, the delusion that a loved one has been replaced by an impostor, and Cotard delusion, the delusion that one is dead or does not exist. Two-factor accounts of such delusions hold that they are the result of both an experiential deficit, for instance flattened affect, coupled with an aberrant cognitive response to that deficit. In this paper we develop a new expressivist two-factor account of (...)
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  3. Underlying Delusion: Predictive Processing, Looping Effects, and the Personal/Sub-Personal Distinction.Matteo Colombo & Regina E. Fabry - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-27.
    What is the relationship between the concepts of the predictive processing theory of brain functioning and the everyday concepts with which people conduct and explain their mental lives? To answer this question, we focus on predictive processing explanations of mental disorder that appeal to false inference. After distinguishing two concepts of false inference, we survey four ways of understanding the relationship between explanations of mental phenomena at the personal and sub-personal level. We then argue that if predictive processing accurately accounts (...)
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  4. Anosognosia for Motor Impairments as a Delusion: Anomalies of Experience and Belief Evaluation.Martin Davies, Caitlin L. McGill & Anne M. Aimola Davies - forthcoming - In A. L. Mishara, P. R. Corlett, P. C. Fletcher, A. Kranjec & M. A. Schwartz (eds.), Phenomenological Neuropsychiatry: How Patient Experience Bridges Clinic with Clinical Neuroscience. Springer.
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  5. Delusion, Reality and Intersubjectivity: A Phenomenological and Enactive Analysis.Thomas Fuchs - forthcoming - Phenomenology and Mind:120.
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  6. The Everyday Irrationality of Monothematic Delusion.Paul Noordhof & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - forthcoming - In Paul Henne & Samuel Murray (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Action. Routledge.
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  7. Critical Notice: Iain McGilchrist, The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World (Perspectiva, 2021). 2 Volumes, 1500 Pages, No Price. [REVIEW]Rupert Read - forthcoming - Philosophical Investigations.
    Philosophical Investigations, EarlyView.
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  8. Charting New Phenomenological Paths for Empirical Research on Delusions: Embracing Complexity, Finding Meaning.R. Ritunnano, M. Broome & G. Stanghellini - forthcoming - JAMA Psychiatry.
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  9. Finding Order Within the Disorder: A Case Study Exploring the Meaningfulness of Delusions.R. Ritunnano, C. Humpston & M. R. Broome - forthcoming - BJPsych Bulletin:1–7.
    Can delusions, in the context of psychosis, enhance a person’s sense of meaningfulness? The case described here suggests that, in some circumstances, they can. This prompts further questions into the complexities of delusion as a lived phenomenon, with important implications for the clinical encounter. While assumptions of meaninglessness are often associated with concepts of ’disorder’, ’harm’ and ’dysfunction’, we suggest that meaning can nonetheless be found within what is commonly taken to be incomprehensible or even meaningless. A phenomenological and value-based (...)
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  10. Do delusions have and give meaning?Rosa Ritunnano & Lisa Bortolotti - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-20.
    Delusions are often portrayed as paradigmatic instances of incomprehensibility and meaninglessness. Here we investigate the relationship between delusions and meaning from a philosophical perspective, integrating arguments and evidence from cognitive psychology and phenomenological psychopathology. We review some of the empirical and philosophical literature relevant to two claims about delusions and meaning: delusions are meaningful, despite being described as irrational and implausible beliefs; some delusions can also enhance the sense that one’s life is meaningful, supporting agency and creativity in some circumstances. (...)
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  11. Misidentification delusions as mentalization disorders.Adrianna Smurzyńska - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-16.
    The aim of this article is to analyze those theories that interpret misidentification delusions in terms of mentalization. The hypothesis under examination holds that a mentalization framework is useful for describing misidentification delusions when identification is thought to be partially based on mentalization. The article provides both a characterization and possible interpretations of such delusions, and possible relations between misidentification and mentalization are scrutinized. Whether the mentalization approach may explain or describe such kinds of mental disorders is considered, with the (...)
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  12. What is Capgras Delusion?Max Coltheart & Martin Davies - 2022 - Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 27:69-82.
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  13. Doubt, Delusion and Diagnosis.Huw Green - 2022 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 29 (1):21-23.
    A team of professionals considers whether a patient in her early 50s is developing Alzheimer’s. The patient is not experiencing the memory symptoms typical of that disease, with so far a few years of sporadic attentional lapses as the predominant cognitive complaint. Her most dramatic symptom is her impression that two versions of her husband live with her. One is her real husband, the other a “fake.” There is no elaborated story about who the fake is or why he is (...)
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  14. Understanding Delusions: Evidence, Reason, and Experience.Chenwei Nie - 2022 - Dissertation, University of Warwick
  15. Expressing experience: the promise and perils of the phenomenological interview.Elizabeth Pienkos, Borut Škodlar & Louis Sass - 2022 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 21 (1):53-71.
    This paper outlines several of the challenges that are inherent in any attempt to communicate subjective experience to others, particularly in the context of a clinical interview. It presents the phenomenological interview as a way of effectively responding to these challenges, which may be especially important when attempting to understand the profound experiential transformations that take place in schizophrenia. Features of language experience in schizophrenia—including changes in interpersonal orientation, a sense of the arbitrariness of language, and a desire for faithful (...)
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  16. Dreaming as a Virtual Reality Delusion Simulator: Gaining Empathy Whilst We Sleep 73–85.Melanie G. Rosen - 2022 - International Journal of Dream Research 1 (15):73–85.
    The conscious experiences we have during sleep have the potential to improve our empathetic response to those who experience delusions and psychosis by supplying a virtual reality simulation of mental illness. Empathy for those with mental illness is lacking and there has been little improvement in the last decades despite efforts made to increase awareness. Our lack of empathy, in this case, may be due to an inability to accurately mentally simulate what it’s like to have a particular cognitive disorder. (...)
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  17. Delusions and madmen: against rationality constraints on belief.Declan Smithies, Preston Lennon & Richard Samuels - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-30.
    According to the Rationality Constraint, our concept of belief imposes limits on how much irrationality is compatible with having beliefs at all. We argue that empirical evidence of human irrationality from the psychology of reasoning and the psychopathology of delusion undermines only the most demanding versions of the Rationality Constraint, which require perfect rationality as a condition for having beliefs. The empirical evidence poses no threat to more relaxed versions of the Rationality Constraint, which only require only minimal rationality. Nevertheless, (...)
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  18. Debunking Doxastic Transparency.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2022 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 18 (1):(A3)5-24.
    In this paper I consider the project of offering an evolutionary debunking explanation for transparency in doxastic deliberation. I examine Nicole Dular and Nikki Fortier’s (2021) attempt at such a project. I suggest that their account faces a dilemma. On the one horn, their explanation of transparency involves casting our mechanisms for belief formation as solely concerned with truth. I argue that this is explanatorily inadequate when we take a wider view of our belief formation practices. I show that Dular (...)
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  19. Derationalizing Delusions.Vaughan Bell, Nichola Raihani & Sam Wilkinson - 2021 - Clinical Psychological Science : A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science 9 (1):24-37.
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  20. Strange Beliefs: Essays on Delusion Formation.Federico Bongiorno Dr - 2021 - Dissertation, University of Birmingham
    This thesis is set out as a collection of self-standing essays. Throughout these essays, I try to illuminate a number of controversies surrounding the way in which delusions are formed, and relatedly, their nature and epistemic standing. In Chapter 2, after an introductory chapter, I flesh out a new ‘endorsement’ approach to the Capgras delusion, the main idea being that the delusion is formed by endorsing the content of a metaphorical-perceptual state in which a loved one is represented metaphorically as (...)
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  21. Can There Be Delusions of Pain?Lisa Bortolotti & Martino Belvederi Murri - 2021 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 12 (2):167-172.
    : Jennifer Radden argues that there cannot be delusional pain in depression, putting forward three arguments: the argument from falsehood, the argument from epistemic irrationality, and the argument from incongruousness. Whereas delusions are false, epistemically irrational, and incongruous with the person’s experience, feeling pain from the first-person perspective cannot be false or irrational, and is congruous with the person’s experience in depression. In this commentary on Radden’s paper, we share her scepticism about the notion of delusional pain, but we find (...)
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  22. Advancing Research on Delusions: Fostering Dialogue Between Cognitive and Phenomenological Researchers.Pavan Brar, Sass S., Kalarchian Louis & A. Melissa - 2021 - Schizophrenia Research 233:62–63.
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  23. Failure of Hypothesis Evaluation as a Factor in Delusional Belief.Max Coltheart & Martin Davies - 2021 - Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 26: 213-230.
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  24. How Unexpected Observations Lead to New Beliefs: A Peircean Pathway.Max Coltheart & Martin Davies - 2021 - Consciousness and Cognition 87:103037.
    People acquire new beliefs in various ways. One of the most important of these is that new beliefs are acquired as a response to experiencing events that one did not expect. This involves a form of inference distinct from both deductive and inductive inference: abductive inference. The concept of abduction is due to the American pragmatist philosopher C. S. Peirce. Davies and Coltheart elucidated what Peirce meant by abduction, and identified two problems in his otherwise promising account requiring solution if (...)
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  25. Modelling Delusions as Temporally-Evolving Beliefs.P. R. Corlett & P. Fletcher - 2021 - Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 26 (4):231-241.
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  26. Metaphorical Thinking and Delusions in Psychosis.Felicity Deamer & Sam Wilkinson - 2021 - In Maxime Amblard, Michel Musiol & Manuel Rebuschi (eds.), Coherence of Discourse: Formal and Conceptual Issues of Language. Springer Verlag. pp. 119-130.
    This paper explores how metaphorical thinking might contribute to an aetiology of florid delusions in psychosis. We argue that this approach helps to account for the path from experience to the delusional assertion, which, though relatively straightforward for monothematic delusions like the Capgras delusion, has always been difficult to account for in florid delusions in psychosis. Our account also helps to account for double book-keeping and the relative agential inertia of the belief.
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  27. Delusions Beyond Beliefs: A Critical Overview of Diagnostic, Aetiological, and Therapeutic Schizophrenia Research From a Clinical-Phenomenological Perspective.J. Feyaerts, M. G. Henriksen, S. Vanheule, I. Myin-Germeys & L. A. Sass - 2021 - Lancet Psychiatry 8 (3):237-249.
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  28. Phenomenology, Delusions, and Belief – Authors’ Reply.Jasper Feyaerts, Mads Henriksen, Vanheule G., Myin-Germeys Stijn, Sass Inez & Louis - 2021 - The Lancet Psychiatry 8 (4):273–274.
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  29. Uncovering the Realities of Delusional Experience in Schizophrenia: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study in Belgium.Jasper Feyaerts, Wouter Kusters, Zeno Van Duppen, Stijn Vanheule, Inez Myin-Germeys & Louis Sass - 2021 - Lancet Psychiatry 8 (9):784-796.
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  30. Delusional Evidence-Responsiveness.Carolina Flores - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6299-6330.
    Delusions are deeply evidence-resistant. Patients with delusions are unmoved by evidence that is in direct conflict with the delusion, often responding to such evidence by offering obvious, and strange, confabulations. As a consequence, the standard view is that delusions are not evidence-responsive. This claim has been used as a key argumentative wedge in debates on the nature of delusions. Some have taken delusions to be beliefs and argued that this implies that belief is not constitutively evidence-responsive. Others hold fixed the (...)
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  31. The Myth of Irrationality: A Wittgensteinian Approach to Delusions and to the Principle of Charity.Mathieu Frèrejouan - 2021 - In Maxime Amblard, Michel Musiol & Manuel Rebuschi (eds.), Coherence of Discourse: Formal and Conceptual Issues of Language. Springer Verlag. pp. 131-151.
    The principle of charity is most often understood as that which justifies ascribing rationality to every interlocutor, regardless of the agent appears irrational. As such, a recurring question in the field of the philosophy of psychiatry is whether the said principle should be advocated as a way of understanding delusions as rational or should be rejected as a form of over-rationalization. The aim of this paper is to show, by defending an understanding of rationality inspired by the late philosophy of (...)
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  32. Is the Biological Adaptiveness of Delusions Doomed?Eugenia Lancellotta - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (1):47-63.
    Delusions are usually considered as harmful and dysfunctional beliefs, one of the primary symptoms of a psychiatric illness and the mark of madness in popular culture. However, in recent times a much more positive role has been advocated for delusions. More specifically, it has been argued that delusions might be an answer to a problem rather than problems in themselves. By delivering psychological and epistemic benefits, delusions would allow people who face severe biological or psychological difficulties to survive in their (...)
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  33. The Clinical Significance of Anomalous Experience in the Explanation of Monothematic Delusions.Paul Noordhof & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10277-10309.
    Monothematic delusions involve a single theme, and often occur in the absence of a more general delusional belief system. They are cognitively atypical insofar as they are said to be held in the absence of evidence, are resistant to correction, and have bizarre contents. Empiricism about delusions has it that anomalous experience is causally implicated in their formation, whilst rationalism has it that delusions result from top down malfunctions from which anomalous experiences can follow. Within empiricism, two approaches to the (...)
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  34. The Certainties of Delusion.Jakob Ohlhorst - 2021 - In Luca Moretti & Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen (eds.), Non-Evidentialist Epistemology. Leiden: Brill. pp. 211-229.
    Delusions are unhinged hinge certainties. Delusions are defined as strongly anchored beliefs that do not change in the face of adverse evidence. The same goes for Wittgensteinian certainties. My paper refines the so-called framework views of delusion, presenting an argument that epistemically speaking, considering them to be certainties best accounts for delusions’ doxastic profile. Until now there has been little argument in favour of this position and the original proposals made too extreme predictions about the belief systems of delusional patients. (...)
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  35. Delusional Predictions and Explanations.Matthew Parrott - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):325-353.
    In both cognitive science and philosophy, many theorists have recently appealed to a predictive processing framework to offer explanations of why certain individuals form delusional beliefs. One aim of this essay will be to illustrate how one could plausibly develop a predictive processing account in different ways to account for the onset of different kinds of delusions. However, the second aim of this essay will be to discuss two significant limitations of the predictive processing framework. First, I shall draw on (...)
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  36. Delusions of Possession and Religious Coping in Schizophrenia: A Qualitative Study of Four Cases.Igor J. Pietkiewicz, Urszula Kłosińska & Radosław Tomalski - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    The notion of evil spirits influencing human behavior or mental processes is used in many cultures to justify various symptoms or experiences. It is also expressed in psychotic delusions of possession, but there is limited research in this area. This study explores how patients with schizophrenia came to the conclusion that they were possessed, and how this affected help-seeking. Interviews with two men and two women about their experiences and meaning-making were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three main themes were (...)
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  37. Imagined and Delusional Pain.Jennifer Radden - 2021 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 12 (2):151-166.
    : Extreme pain and suffering are associated with depression as well as tissue damage. The impossibility of imagining any feelings of pain and suffering intersect with two matters: the kind of imagining involved, and the nature of delusions. These two correspond to the sequence of the following discussion, in which it is contended first that feelings of pain and suffering resist being imagined in a certain, key way, and second that, given a certain analysis of delusional thought, this precludes the (...)
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  38. Kant’s “Mere Delusions of Misery”. Replies to Arnaudo, Bortolotti & Belvederi Murri, Kind and Noordhof on Imaginary Pain.Jennifer Radden - 2021 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 12 (2):200-206.
    Author's reply to comments on J. RADDEN, Imagined and delusional pain, Forum Imagining pain, in: «Rivista internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia», vol. XII, n. 2, 2021, pp. 151-206.
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  39. The Epistemic Innocence of Irrational Beliefs.Lisa Bortolotti - 2020 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Lisa Bortolotti argues that some irrational beliefs are epistemically innocent and deliver significant epistemic benefits that could not be easily attained otherwise. While the benefits of the irrational belief may not outweigh the costs, epistemic innocence helps to clarify the epistemic and psychological effects of irrational beliefs on agency.
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  40. Doctors Without ‘Disorders’.Lisa Bortolotti - 2020 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94 (1):163-184.
    On one influential view, the problems that should attract medical attention involve a disorder, because the goals of medical practice are to prevent and treat disorders. Based on this view, if there are no mental disorders then the status of psychiatry as a medical field is challenged. In this paper, I observe that it is often difficult to establish whether the problems that attract medical attention involve a disorder, and argue that none of the notions of disorder proposed so far (...)
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  41. Rationality in Mental Disorders: Too Little or Too Much?Valentina Cardella - 2020 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 16 (2):13-36.
    The idea that mental illnesses are impairments in rationality is very old, and very common (Kasanin 1944; Harvey et al. 2004; Graham 2010). But is it true? In this article two severe mental disorders, schizophrenia and delusional disorder, are investigated in order to find some defects in rationality. Through the analysis of patients’ performances on different tests, and the investigation of their typical reasoning styles, I will show that mental disorders can be deficits in social cognition, or common sense, but (...)
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  42. Delusions and Theories of Belief.Michael H. Connors & Peter W. Halligan - 2020 - Consciousness and Cognition 81:102935.
  43. Delusion, Proper Function, and Justification.Parker Crutchfield - 2020 - Neuroethics 14 (2):113-124.
    Among psychiatric conditions, delusions have received significant attention in the philosophical literature. This is partly due to the fact that many delusions are bizarre, and their contents interesting in and of themselves. But the disproportionate attention is also due to the notion that by studying what happens when perception, cognition, and belief go wrong, we can better understand what happens when these go right. In this paper, I attend to delusions for the second reason—by evaluating the epistemology of delusions, we (...)
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  44. Delusion, Reality, and Intersubjectivity: A Phenomenological and Enactive Analysis.Thomas Fuchs - 2020 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 27 (1):61-79.
    Normal convictions are formed in a context of social living and common knowledge. Immediate experience of reality survives only if it can fit into the frame of what is socially valid or can be critically tested. … Each single experience can always be corrected but the total context of experience is something stable and can hardly be corrected at all. The source for incorrigibility therefore is not to be found in any single phenomenon by itself but in the human situation (...)
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  45. Cotard Syndrome, Self-Awareness, and I-Concepts.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (1):1-20.
    Various psychopathologies of self-awareness, such as somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion in schizophrenia, might seem to threaten the viability of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness since it requires a HOT about one’s own mental state to accompany every conscious state. The HOT theory of consciousness says that what makes a mental state a conscious mental state is that there is a HOT to the effect that “I am in mental state M.” I have argued in previous work that a (...)
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  46. Identity Disorders and Environment. A Phenomenological Model of Delusion.Roberta Guccinelli - 2020 - In H. R. Sepp (ed.), Phänomenologie und Ökologie. Würzburg, Germania: pp. 132-146.
    In this paper, I am generally concerned with certain mental disorders and the doxastic attitudes that sometimes characterize them. According to recent Anglo-American philosophical studies on this topic, the latter involve beliefs that have somehow “gone wrong”: strange or irrational beliefs and cases of “motivated irrationality”. I aim to focus on pathological and deceptive phenomena such as delusion and self-deception. From a phenomenological perspective, these can also be investigated with regard to their experiential content. Adopting this approach, and starting in (...)
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  47. If You Can't Change What You Believe, You Don't Believe It.Grace Helton - 2020 - Noûs 54 (3):501-526.
    I develop and defend the view that subjects are necessarily psychologically able to revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence. Specifically, subjects can revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence, given their current psychological mechanisms and skills. If a subject lacks this ability, then the mental state in question is not a belief, though it may be some other kind of cognitive attitude, such as a supposi-tion, an entertained thought, or a pretense. The result is a moderately revisionary (...)
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  48. Transparent Delusion.Vladimir Krstić - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (1):183-201.
    In this paper, I examine a kind of delusion in which the patients judge that their occurrent thoughts are false and try to abandon them precisely because they are false, but fail to do so. I call this delusion transparent, since it is transparent to the sufferer that their thought is false. In explaining this phenomenon, I defend a particular two-factor theory of delusion that takes the proper integration of relevant reasoning processes as vital for thought-evaluation. On this proposal, which (...)
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  49. Delusions in the Two-Factor Theory: Pathological or Adaptive?Eugenia Lancellotta & Lisa Bortolotti - 2020 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 16 (2):37-57.
    In this paper we ask whether the two-factor theory of delusions is compatible with two claims, that delusions are pathological and that delusions are adaptive. We concentrate on two recent and influential models of the two-factor theory: the one proposed by Max Coltheart, Peter Menzies and John Sutton (2010) and the one developed by Ryan McKay (2012). The models converge on the nature of Factor 1 but diverge about the nature of Factor 2. The differences between the two models are (...)
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  50. Jumping to Conclusions in the Less-Delusion-Prone? Further Evidence From a More Reliable Beads Task.Benjamin F. McLean, Ryan P. Balzan & Julie K. Mattiske - 2020 - Consciousness and Cognition 83:102956.
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