Self-deception poses longstanding and fascinating paradoxes. Philosophers have questioned whether, and how, self-deception is even possible; evolutionary theorists have debated whether it is adaptive. For Sigmund Freud self-deception was a fundamental key to understanding the unconscious, and from The Bible to The Great Gatsby literature abounds with characters renowned for their self-deception. But what exactly is self-deception? Why is it so puzzling? How is it performed? And is it harmful? ...
Self-deception raises complex questions about the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. In this book, Alfred Mele addresses four of the most critical of these questions: What is it to deceive oneself? How do we deceive ourselves? Why do we deceive ourselves? Is self-deception really possible? -/- Drawing on cutting-edge empirical research on everyday reasoning and biases, Mele takes issue with commonplace attempts to equate the processes of self-deception with those of stereotypical interpersonal (...)deception. Such attempts, he demonstrates, are fundamentally misguided, particularly in the assumption that self-deception is intentional. In their place, Mele proposes a compelling, empirically informed account of the motivational causes of biased beliefs. At the heart of this theory is an appreciation of how emotion and motivation may, without our knowing it, bias our assessment of evidence for beliefs. Highlighting motivation and emotion, Mele develops a pair of approaches for explaining the two forms of self-deception: the "straight" form, in which we believe what we want to be true, and the "twisted" form, in which we believe what we wish to be false. -/- Underlying Mele's work is an abiding interest in understanding and explaining the behavior of real human beings. The result is a comprehensive, elegant, empirically grounded theory of everyday self-deception that should engage philosophers and social scientists alike. (shrink)
To what extent do self-deception and delusion overlap? In this paper we argue that both self-deception and delusions can be understood in folk-psychological terms. “Motivated” delusions, just like self-deception, can be described as beliefs driven by personal interests. If self-deception can be understood folk-psychologically because of its motivational component, so can motivated delusions. Non-motivated delusions also fit the folk-psychological notion of belief, since they can be described as hypotheses one endorses when attempting to make sense of (...) unusual and powerful experiences. We suggest that there is continuity between the epistemic irrationality manifested in self-deception and in delusion. (shrink)
My central question in this paper is how delusional beliefs are related to self-deception. In section 1, I summarize my position on what self-deception is and how representative instances of it are to be explained. I turn to delusions in section 2, where I focus on the Capgras delusion, delusional jealousy (or the Othello syndrome), and the reverse Othello syndrome.
Marko Jurjako’s article “Self-deception and the selectivity problem” (Jurjako 2013) offers a very interesting discussion of intentionalist approaches to self-deception and in particular the selectivity objection to anti-intentionalism raised in Bermúdez 1997 and 2000. This note responds to Jurjako’s claim that intentionalist models of self-deception face their own version of the selectivity problem, offering an account of how intentions are formed that can explain the selectivity of self-deception, even in the “common or garden” cases that Jurjako (...) emphasizes. (shrink)
Virtually every aspect of the current philosophical discussion of self-deception is a matter of controversy including its definition and paradigmatic cases. We may say generally, however, that self-deception is the acquisition and maintenance of a belief (or, at least, the avowal of that belief) in the face of strong evidence to the contrary motivated by desires or emotions favoring the acquisition and retention of that belief. Beyond this, philosophers divide over whether this action is intentional or not, whether (...) self-deceivers recognize the belief being acquired is unwarranted on the available evidence, whether self-deceivers are morally responsible for their self-deception, and whether self-deception is morally problematic (and if it is in what ways and under what circumstances). The discussion of self-deception and its associated puzzles gives us insight into the ways in which motivation affects belief acquisition and retention. And yet insofar as self-deception represents an obstacle to self-knowledge, which has potentially serious moral implications, self-deception is more than an interesting philosophical puzzle. It is a problem of particular concern for moral development, since self-deception can make us strangers to ourselves and blind to our own moral failings. (shrink)
Is it ethical to deceive the individuals who participate in psychological experiments for methodological reasons? We argue against an absolute ban on the use of deception in psychological research. The potential benefits of many psychological experiments involving deception consist in allowing individuals and society to gain morally significant self-knowledge that they could not otherwise gain. Research participants gain individual self-knowledge which can help them improve their autonomous decision-making. The community gains collective self-knowledge that, once shared, can play a (...) role in shaping education, informing policies and in general creating a more efficient and just society. (shrink)
Self-deception is typically considered epistemically irrational, for it involves holding certain doxastic attitudes against strong counter-evidence. Pragmatic encroachment about epistemic rationality says that whether it is epistemically rational to believe, withhold belief or disbelieve something can depend on perceived practical factors of one’s situation. In this paper I argue that some cases of self-deception satisfy what pragmatic encroachment considers sufficient conditions for epistemic rationality. As a result, we face the following dilemma: either we revise the received view about (...) self-deception or we deny pragmatic encroachment on epistemic rationality. I suggest that the dilemma can be solved if we pay close attention to the distinction between ideal and bounded rationality. I argue that the problematic cases fail to meet standards of ideal rationality but exemplify bounded rationality. The solution preserves pragmatic encroachment on bounded rationality, but denies it on ideal rationality. (shrink)
Drawing on recent empirical work, this philosophical paper explores some possible contributions of emotion to self-deception. Three hypotheses are considered: (1) the anxiety reduction hypothesis: the function of self-deception is to reduce present anxiety; (2) the solo emotion hypothesis: emotions sometimes contribute to instances of self-deception that have no desires among their significant causes; (3) the direct emotion hypothesis: emotions sometimes contribute directly to self-deception, in the sense that they make contributions that, at the time, are (...) neither made by desires nor causally mediated by desires. It is argued that (1) is false and that (3) is defensible and more defensible than (2). (shrink)
In the paper, I examine the conditions that are necessary for the correct characterization of the phenomenon of self-deception. Deflationists believe that the phenomenon of self-deception can be characterized as a kind of motivationally biased belief-forming process. They face the selectivity problem according to which the presence of a desire for something to be the case is not enough to produce a self-deceptive belief. Intentionalists argue that the solution to the selectivity problem consists in invoking the notion of (...) intention. According to them, self-deception involves intentional distortion of one's own belief-forming process. In this paper, I defend the claim that intentionalists also face the problem of selectivity. Accordingly, I argue that this objection cannot be used to determine which theory of self-deception is superior. Furthermore, I argue that limiting folk-psychological explanations to reason-based explanations might be responsible for the resilience of the selectivity problem. In that context, as an additional explanatory factor, I emphasize personality traits that, along with motives, play an important role in the psychological explanation of human behavior. In the rest of the paper, I explore how such an expanded view of the folk-psychological explanation can be used to better capture individual cases of self-deception. (shrink)
In this entry, I seek to show the interdependence of questions about self-deception in philosophy of mind, psychology, and ethics. I taxonomize solutions to the paradoxes of self-deception, present possible psychological mechanisms behind it, and highlight how different approaches to the philosophy of mind and psychology will affect how we answer important ethical questions. Is self-deception conducive to happiness? How does self-deception affect responsibility? Is there something intrinsically wrong with self-deception? The entry, on the one (...) hand, is a tour of the literature; on the other, it is a case for more work that crosses traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries. (shrink)
Regarding the appropriateness of deception in clinical practice, two (apparently conflicting) claims are often emphasised. First, that ‘clinicians should not deceive their patients.’ Second, that deception is sometimes ‘in a patient’s best interest.’ Recently, Hardman has worked towards resolving this conflict by exploring ways in which deceptive and non-deceptive practices extend beyond consideration of patients’ beliefs. In short, some practices only seem deceptive because of the (common) assumption that non-deceptive care is solely aimed at fostering true beliefs. Non-deceptive (...) care, however, relates to patients’ non-doxastic attitudes in important ways as well. As such, Hardman suggests that by focusing on belief alone, we sometimes misidentify non-deceptive care as ‘deceptive’. Further, once we consider patients’ beliefs and non-doxastic attitudes, identifying cases of deception becomes more difficult than it may seem. In this essay, I argue that Hardman’s reasoning contains at least three serious flaws. First, his account of deception is underdeveloped, as it does not state whether deception must be intentional. The problem is that if intention is not required, absurd results follow. Alternatively, if intention is required, then identifying cases of deception will be much easier (in principle) than Hardman suggests. Second, Hardman mischaracterises the ‘inverse’ of deceptive care. Doing so leads to the mistaken conclusion that common conceptions of non-deceptive care are unjustifiably narrow. Third, Hardman fails to adequately separate questions about deception from questions about normativity. By addressing these issues, however, we can preserve some of Hardman’s most important insights, although in a much simpler, more principled way. (shrink)
In his 2018 AJP paper, Shlomo Cohen hints that deception could be a distinct subset of manipulation. We pursue this thought further, but by arguing that Cohen’s accounts of deception and manipulation are incorrect. Deception under uncertainty need not involve adding false premises to the victim’s reasoning but it must involve manipulating her response, and cases of manipulation that do not interfere with the victim’s reasoning, but rather utilize it, also exist. Therefore, deception under uncertainty must (...) be constituted by covert manipulation. (shrink)
Deception has recently received a significant amount of attention. One of main reasons is that it lies at the intersection of various areas of research, such as the evolution of cooperation, animal communication, ethics or epistemology. This essay focuses on the biological approach to deception and argues that standard definitions put forward by most biologists and philosophers are inadequate. We provide a functional account of deception which solves the problems of extant accounts in virtue of two characteristics: (...) deceptive states have the function of causing a misinformative states and they do not necessarily provide direct benefits to the deceivers and losses to the targets. (shrink)
This paper raises a slightly uncomfortable question: are some delusional subjects responsible for their delusions? This question is uncomfortable because we typically think that the answer is pretty clearly just ‘no’. However, we also accept that self-deception is paradigmatically intentional behavior for which the self-deceiver is prima facie blameworthy. Thus, if there is overlap between self-deception and delusion, this will put pressure on our initial answer. This paper argues that there is indeed such overlap by offering a novel (...) philosophical account of self-deception. The account offered is independently plausible and avoids the main problems that plague other views. It also yields the result that some delusional subjects are self-deceived. The conclusion is not, however, that those subjects are blameworthy. Rather, a distinction is made between blameworthiness and ‘attributability’. States or actions can be significantly attributable to a subject—in the sense that they are expressions of their wills—without it being the case that the subject is blameworthy, if the subject has an appropriate excuse. Understanding delusions within this framework of responsibility and excuses not only illuminates the ways in which the processes of delusional belief formation and maintenance are continuous with ‘ordinary’ processes of belief formation and maintenance, it also provides a way of understanding the innocence of the delusional subject that does not involve the denial of agency. (shrink)
I argue here that self-deception is not conducive to happiness. There is a long train of thought in social psychology that seems to say that it is, but proper understanding of the data does not yield this conclusion. Illusion must be distinguished from mere imagining. Self-deception must be distinguished from self-inflation bias and from self-fulfilling belief. Once these distinctions are in place, the case for self-deception falls apart. Furthermore, by yielding false beliefs, self-deception undermines desire satisfaction. (...) Finally, I argue for the positive view that *honest imagining* can yield the psychological benefits that others have claimed for self-deception. (shrink)
Although Kant is one of the very few classical writers referred to in the current literature on lying, hardly any attention is paid to how his views relate to the contemporary discussion on the definition of lying. I argue that, in Kant’s account, deception is not the defining feature of lying. Furthermore, his view is able to acknowledge non-deceptive lies. Kant thus holds, I suggest, a version of what is currently labelled Intrinsic Anti-Deceptionism. In his specific version of such (...) a view, furthermore, dishonesty is the distinctive feature of lying. Finally, I highlight the important methodological differences between Kant’s normatively minded account and the primarily descriptive contemporary discussion, with regard to the role of intuitions and definitions in building a moral theory: In contrast to the current debate, Kant does not rely on intuitions, but defines lying in terms of the obligation it violates. (shrink)
This paper takes a constitutivist approach to self-deception, and argues that this phenomenon should be evaluated under several dimensions of rationality. The constitutivist approach has the merit of explaining the selective nature of self-deception as well as its being subject to moral sanction. Self-deception is a pragmatic strategy for maintaining the stability of the self, hence continuous with other rational activities of self-constitution. However, its success is limited, and it costs are high: it protects the agent’s self (...) by undermining the authority she has on her mental life. To this extent, self-deception is akin to alienation and estrangement. Its morally disturbing feature is its self-serving partiality. The self-deceptive agent settles on standards of justification that are lower than any rational agent would adopt, and thus loses grip on her agency. To capture the moral dimension of self-deception, I defend a Kantian account of the constraints that bear on self-constitution, and argue that it warrants more discriminating standards of agential autonomy than other contemporary minimalist views of self-government. (shrink)
In this review of Brooke Harrington's edited collection of essays on deception, written by people from different disciplines and giving us a good "status report" on what various disciplines have to say about deception and lying, I reject social psychologist Mark Frank's taxonomy of passive deception, active consensual deception, and active non-consensual deception (active consensual deception is not deception), as well as his definition of deception as "anything that misleads another for some (...) gain" ("for gain" is a reason for engaging in deception, not part of its definition). I also take issue with management professor Guido Mollering's claim that all deception involves a violation of trust. (shrink)
Self-Deception and the Common Life investigates the topic of self-deception from three points of view: philosophical psychology, ethics, and theology. Empirical evidence and an -ordinary language- analysis support the case that the linguistic expression 'self-deception' is literally meaningful and that the language of the common life can be trusted. After critically analyzing the cognition, translation, and action accounts, along with the contributions of Freud and Sartre, Steffen proposes a new synthetic -emotional perception- account, one that avoids paradox. (...) Giving attention to relevant moral issues, he argues that self-deception is not immoral, but represents a peculiar form of akrasia. Finally, because theologians employ 'self-deception' to describe the cognitive component of sin, Steffen considers the logic of theological self-deception. His study seeks an -intimate acquaintance- with self-deception and exemplifies a method of analysis relevant to constructive theological inquiry.". (shrink)
In the philosophical literature, self-deception is mainly approached through the analysis of paradoxes. Yet, it is agreed that self-deception is motivated by protection from distress. In this paper, we argue, with the help of findings from cognitive neuroscience and psychology, that self-deception is a type of affective coping. First, we criticize the main solutions to the paradoxes of self-deception. We then present a new approach to self-deception. Self-deception, we argue, involves three appraisals of the (...) distressing evidence: (a) appraisal of the strength of evidence as uncertain, (b) low coping potential and (c) negative anticipation along the lines of Damasio’s somatic marker hypothesis. At the same time, desire impacts the treatment of flattering evidence via dopamine. Our main proposal is that self-deception involves emotional mechanisms provoking a preference for immediate reward despite possible long-term negative repercussions. In the last part, we use this emotional model to revisit the philosophical paradoxes. (shrink)
Altruistic Deception.Jonathan Birch - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 74:27-33.details
Altruistic deception (or the telling of “white lies”) is common in humans. Does it also exist in non-human animals? On some definitions of deception, altruistic deception is impossible by definition, whereas others make it too easy by counting useful-but-ambiguous information as deceptive. I argue for a definition that makes altruistic deception possible in principle without trivializing it. On my proposal, deception requires the strategic exploitation of a receiver by a sender, where “exploitation” implies that the (...) sender elicits a behaviour in the receiver that is beneficial in a different type of situation and is expressed only because the signal raises the probability, from the receiver’s standpoint, of that type of situation. I then offer an example of a real signal that is deceptive in this sense, and yet potentially altruistic (and certainly cooperative): the purr call of the pied babbler. Fledglings associate purr calls with food, and adults exploit this learned association, in the absence of food, to lead fledglings away from predators following an alarm call. I conclude by considering why altruistic deception is apparently so rare in non-human animals. (shrink)
Theories of self-deception divide into those that hold that the state is characterized by some kind of synchronic tension or conflict between propositional attitudes and those that deny this. Proponents of the latter like Al Mele claim that their theories are more parsimonious, because they do not require us to postulate any psychological mechanisms beyond those which have been independently verified. But if we can show that there are real cases of motivated believing which are characterized by conflicting propositional (...) attitudes, however, the parsimony argument against incongruent mental state accounts is undermined. I argue that anosognosia presents us with a real-life example of motivated belief together with (sub)-doxastic conflict. (shrink)
Philosophical accounts of self-deception can be divided into two broad groups – the intentionalist and the anti-intentionalist. On intentionalist models what happens in the central cases of self-deception is parallel to what happens when one person intentionally deceives another, except that deceiver and deceived are the same person. This paper offers a positive argument for intentionalism about self-deception and defends the view against standard objections.
In this book, Jason Kido Lopez argues that self-deception is a matter of intentionally using the strategies and methods of interpersonal deception on oneself. This conception demonstrates interesting connections between Sartre’s notion of bad faith, interpersonal deception and lying, pretense, wishful thinking, akrasia, and unintentional biases.
This essay is a plea for the view that philosophers should analyze the concept of self-deception more with the aim of having useful applications for empirical research. This is especially desirable because psychologists often use different, even incompat-ible conceptions of self-deception when investigating the factual conditions and con-sequences, as well as the very existence, of the phenomenon. At the same time, philosophers who exploit psychological research on human cognition and reasoning in order to better understand self-deception fail (...) to realize that these theories and data are loaded with problematic assumptions. More specifically, I discuss what conceptions of rationality are assumed when we describe cases of self-deception as either irra-tional or as adaptively rational, and how competing ontological models of the self ap-pear in different accounts of self-deception. I argue, first, that although the self typically is an object of such deception, it is not always so. Secondly, while it is the subject of deception, it is so only in a moderate way: We need neither assume multi-ple selves, nor is self-deception typically brought about or sustained intentionally. However, the avoidance of self-deception is at least sometimes under the subject’s ra-tional control. This account does not take for granted the existence of the phenomenon of self-deception. It is a serious task of empirical research to figure out whether self-deception really occurs. This issue also depends on the question ignored until now of what normative conception of rationality is assumed when one views certain beliefs as self-deceptive. (shrink)
Godfrey-Smith advocates for linking deception in sender-receiver games to the existence of undermining signals. I present games in which deceptive signals can be arbitrarily frequent, without this undermining information transfer between sender and receiver.
In this paper I argue against three leading accounts of self-deception in the philosophical literature and propose a heretofore overlooked route to self-deception. The central problem with extant accounts of self-deception is that they are unable to balance two crucial desiderata: (1) to make the dynamics of self-deception (e.g., the formation of self-deceptive beliefs) psychologically plausible and (2) to capture self-deception as an intentional phenomenon for which the self-deceiver is responsible. I argue that the three (...) leading views all fail on one or both counts. However, I claim that many or most cases of self-deception conform to a different model, which I call ‘Self-deception as Omission’. In these cases, the process of self-deceptive belief formation and the intentional act for which the self-deceiver is responsible come apart, allowing us to meet both desiderata. Self-deceptive beliefs are often formed by unconscious mechanisms closely analogous to the 'System 1' processes of dual-systems psychology, or by other mechanisms of motivated reasoning. The nascently self-deceptive subject then acquiesces in the comforting belief and commits an epistemic failure by allowing it to persist. If this is done for motivationally biased reasons — e.g., preferring that the belief in question be true — then the subject is self-deceived and is blameworthy for her epistemic omission. (shrink)
Self- Deception in General "A Liberal Decalogue" suggests (Russell, 1967, pp. 60-61) not to envy people who live in a fool's paradise: It is a place only for fools. This saying invites detailed commentary. A fool's paradise is not a place, but a state o f mind; it is a system of opinions, of assessments of situations, that calms one down, that reassures one into the opinion that all is well, even when all is far from well. Fools may (...) be ignorant of the severity of their situations, perhaps because being well informed tends to get them into a panic. This happens regularly, and there is little that can be done about it, except that the wise would still prefer to be well informed so as to try to cope with the panic more constructively. They would not easily fa ll for the reassuring hypothesis, preferring to examine any reasonable alternative hypothesis about any risk that might invite action - - so that if the hypothesis is corroborated they can try to mobilize some appropriate action. (shrink)
Deception of subjects is used frequently in the social sciences. Examples are provided. The ethics of experimental deception are discussed, in particular various maneuvers to solve the problem. The results have implications for the use of deception in the biomedical sciences.
Self-Deception, Properly understood, Is not paradoxical. Although self-Deception involves motivated false belief, It is not properly modeled after "intentional" interpersonal deception. Thus, The major source of paradox is dissolved. Moreover, Even intentional self-Deception need not be paradoxical and there is good reason to believe that a kind of self-Deception which "would" be paradoxical never occurs. Finally, In cases of self-Deception, As in instances of akratic action, There is scope for blame.
In this article, I defend a discomfiting thesis: The clinical ethicist should sometimes be an active participant in the deception of patients and families. The case for this conclusion builds off Sissela Bok’s seminal analysis of lying, from which I emphasize that, despite some common intuitions to the contrary, there is prima facie no morally relevant difference between lies of omission and commission. I then discuss deception’s prevalence in medical encounters, noting that the ethicist is often embedded in (...) corresponding decisions, and explicate the realities that underlie these tough cases. Among those realities is the fallacy that deception can always be avoided through better communication. I conclude with an elaboration of ethicists’ role-model status and argue that they can turn the deception into a powerful teaching moment about the complexity of ethics reasoning. (shrink)
One of the traditional views of self-deception has been in terms of a dynamically-driven defense mechanism which is employed in order to enhance self-esteem by denying contradictory evidence. Denial is evident during stressful events in everyday life, as well as in cases of mental and somatic impairments. A detailed analysis of a specific neurological syndrome, prosopagnosia, where covert recognition of familiar faces may coexist with lack of overt recognition, demonstrates the inapplicability of the dynamic interpretation of self-deception in (...) terms of denial to some neurological syndromes, and the usefulness of a new conceptualization of this process in terms of dissociation between modular and central processes. It is proposed that self-deception be considered a complex process which may be conceived of as a defense mechanism in everyday life, and as a product of functional dissociation in neurological syndromes. (shrink)
In this paper, I take up the question of whether the phenomenon of self-deception requires a radical sort of partitioning of the mind, and argue that it does not. Most of those who argue in favor of partitioning accept a model of self-deception according to which the self-deceived person desires to and intentionally sets out to form a certain belief that she knows to be false. Such a model is similar to that of deception of other persons, (...) and for this reason is thought to require that the self-deceiver’s mind be partitioned; one “part” of her knows the truth, while the other “part” is convinced of a false belief. I argue that while both the partitionist model and its main competitor should be rejected, each contains a key insight. On the one hand, anti-partitionist models correctly invoke some sort of desire or motivation on the part of self-deceivers as playing a role in the acquisition of their beliefs. But it is partitionists who identify the right sort of desire, namely, the desire to believe. (shrink)
The self-deceived are usually held to be moral responsible for their state. I argue that this attribution of responsibility makes sense only against the background of the traditional conception of self-deception, a conception that is now widely rejected. In its place, a new conception of self-deception has been articulated, which requires neither intentional action by self-deceived agents, nor that they possess contradictory beliefs. This new conception has neither need nor place for attributions of moral responsibility to the self-deceived (...) in paradigmatic cases. Accordingly, we should take the final step toward abandoning the traditional conception, and drop the automatic attribution of responsibility. Self-deception is simply a kind of mistake, and has no more necessary connection to culpability than have other intellectual errors. (shrink)
This paper proposes that self-deception results from the emotional coherence of beliefs with subjective goals. We apply the HOTCO computational model of emotional coherence to simulate a rich case of self-deception from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.We argue that this model is more psychologically realistic than other available accounts of self-deception, and discuss related issues such as wishful thinking, intention, and the division of the self.
I characterize a notion of internal irrationality which is central to hard cases of self-deception. I argue that if we aim to locate such internal irrationality in the _process of self-deception, we must fail. The process of self-deception, I claim, is a wholly arational affair. If we are to make a place for internal irrationality we must turn our attention to the _state of self-deception. I go on to argue that we are able to offer an (...) account of this peculiar form of irrationality only if we recognize the role the self-deceiver's own efforts at self-explanation play in the generation of internal irrationality. (shrink)
From a clinical ethics perspective, I explore several traditional arguments that deem deception as morally unacceptable. For example, it is often argued that deception robs people of their autonomy. Deception also unfairly manipulates others and is a breach of important trust-relations. In these kinds of cases, I argue that the same reasons commonly used against deception can provide strong reasons why deception can be extremely beneficial for patients who lack mental capacity. For example, deception (...) can enhance, rather than impair, autonomy in certain cases. I argue that deception ought to only be used after considering several key morally relevant factors and provide a practical and morally justifiable framework for exploring these issues. (shrink)
I propose that paradigmatic cases of self-deception satisfy the following conditions: (a) the person who is self-deceived about not-P pretends (in the sense of makes-believe or imagines or fantasizes) that not-P is the case, often while believing that P is the case and not believing that not-P is the case; (b) the pretense that not-P largely plays the role normally played by belief in terms of (i) introspective vivacity and (ii) motivation of action in a wide range of circumstances. (...) Understanding self-deception in this way is highly natural. And it provides a non-paradoxical characterization of the phenomenon that explains both its distinctive patterns of instability and its ordinary association with irrationality. Why, then, has this diagnosis been overlooked? I suggest that the oversight is due to a failure to recognize the philosophical significance of a crucial fact about the human mind, namely, the degree to which attitudes other than belief often play a central role in our mental and practical lives, both by "influenc[ing our]... passions and imagination," and by "governing.. .our actions.". (shrink)
A prevalent assumption among philosophers who believe that people can intentionally deceive themselves (intentionalists) is that they accomplish this by controlling what evidence they attend to. This article is concerned primarily with the evaluation of this claim, which we may call ‘attentionalism’. According to attentionalism, when one justifiably believes/suspects that not-p but wishes to make oneself believe that p, one may do this by shifting attention away from the considerations supportive of the belief that not-p and onto considerations supportive of (...) the belief that p. The details of this theory are elaborated, its theoretical importance is pointed out, and it is argued that the strategy is supposed to work by leading to the repression of one’s knowledge of the unwelcome considerations. However, I then show that the assumption that this is possible is opposed by the balance of a relevant body of empirical research, namely, the thought-suppression literature, and so intentionalism about self-deception cannot find vindication in the attentional theory. (shrink)
Many intelligent, capable, and successful individuals believe that their success is due to luck and fear that they will someday be exposed as imposters. A puzzling feature of this phenomenon, commonly referred to as imposter syndrome, is that these same individuals treat evidence in ways that maintain their false beliefs and debilitating fears: they ignore and misattribute evidence of their own abilities, while readily accepting evidence in favour of their inadequacy. I propose a novel account of imposter syndrome as an (...) instance of self-deception, whereby biased evidence treatment is driven by the motivational benefit of negative self-appraisal. This account illuminates a number of interconnected philosophical and scientific puzzles related to the explanation, definition, and value of imposter syndrome. (shrink)
Throughout his writings, and particularly in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Kant alludes to the idea that evil is connected to self-deceit, and while numerous commentators regard this as a highly attractive thesis, none have seriously explored it. Kant on Evil, Self-Deception, and Moral Reform addresses this crucial element of Kant's ethical theory. -/- Working with both Kant's core texts on ethics and materials less often cited within scholarship on Kant's practical philosophy (such as Kant's logic lectures), (...) Papish explores the cognitive dimensions of Kant's accounts of evil and moral reform while engaging the most influential -- and often scathing -- of Kant's critics. Her book asks what self-deception is for Kant, why and how it is connected to evil, and how we achieve the self-knowledge that should take the place of self-deceit. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide an account of a certain variety of self-deception based on a model of self-knowledge. According to this model, one thinks that one has a belief on the basis of one’s grounds for that belief. If this model is correct, then our thoughts about which beliefs we have should be in accordance with our grounds for those beliefs. I suggest that the relevant variety of self deception is a failure of self-knowledge (...) wherein the subject violates this epistemic obligation. I argue that construing this type of self-deception as a failure of selfknowledge explains two important aspects of it: The tension that we observe between the subject’s speech and her actions, and our inclination to hold the subject responsible for her condition. I compare this proposal with two other approaches to self-deception in the literature; intentionalism and motivationalism. Intentionalism explains the two aspects of self-deception but it runs into the so called ‘paradoxes’ of self-deception. Motivationalism avoids those paradoxes but it cannot explain the two aspects of self-deception. (shrink)