Epistemic Benefits of Elaborated and Systematized Delusions in Schizophrenia


Authors
Lisa Bortolotti
University of Birmingham
Abstract
In this article I ask whether elaborated and systematized delusions emerging in the context of schizophrenia have the potential for epistemic innocence. Cognitions are epistemically innocent if they have significant epistemic benefits that could not be attained otherwise. In particular, I propose that a cognition is epistemically innocent if it delivers some significant epistemic benefit to a given agent at a given time, and if alternative cognitions delivering the same epistemic benefit are unavailable to that agent at that time. Elaborated and systematized delusions in schizophrenia are typically false and exemplify failures of rationality and self-knowledge. Empirical studies suggest that they may have psychological benefits by relieving anxiety and enhancing meaningfulness. Moreover, these delusions have been considered as adaptive in virtue of the fact that they enable automated learning to resume after a significant disruption caused by incorrect prediction-error signalling. I argue that such psychological benefits and adaptive features also have positive epistemic consequences. More precisely, delusions can be a means to restoring epistemic functionality in agents who are overwhelmed by hypersalient experiences in the prodromal stage of psychosis. The analysis leads to a more complex view of the epistemic status of delusions than is found in the contemporary philosophical literature and has some implications for clinical practice. 1 Introduction2 Types of Delusions3 What Is Wrong with Elaborated and Systematized Delusions?4 Finding Life Meaningful5 Learning Resumed6 Epistemic Innocence7 Epistemic Benefit8 No Alternatives9 Conclusions and Implications.
Keywords delusions  epistemic innocence  schizophrenia
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Reprint years 2016
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axv024
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References found in this work BETA

Virtue Epistemology.John Turri, Mark Alfano & John Greco - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-51.
A (Different) Virtue Epistemology.John Greco - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):1-26.
The Epistemic Innocence of Motivated Delusions.Lisa Bortolotti - 2015 - Consciousness and Cognition (33):490-499.
Monothematic Delusions: Towards a Two-Factor Account.Martin Davies, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon & N. Breen - 2001 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8 (2-3):133-58.

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Citations of this work BETA

Dissolving the Epistemic/Ethical Dilemma Over Implicit Bias.Katherine Puddifoot - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup1):73-93.
The Epistemic Innocence of Psychedelic States.Chris Letheby - 2016 - Consciousness and Cognition 39:28-37.
What Makes Delusions Pathological?Valentina Petrolini - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (4):1-22.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

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