If a robot sends a deceptive signal to a human user, is this always and everywhere an unethical act, or might it sometimes be ethically desirable? Building upon previous work in robot ethics, this article tries to clarify and refine our understanding of the ethics of robotic deception. It does so by making three arguments. First, it argues that we need to distinguish between three main forms of robotic deception (external state deception; superficial state deception; and (...) hidden state deception) in order to think clearly about its ethics. Second, it argues that the second type of deception – superficial state deception – is not best thought of as a form of deception, even though it is frequently criticised as such. And third, it argues that the third type of deception is best understood as a form of betrayal because doing so captures the unique ethical harm to which it gives rise, and justifies special ethical protections against its use. (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)
Willful ignorance is an important concept in criminal law and jurisprudence, though it has not received much discussion in philosophy. When it is mentioned, however, it is regularly assumed to be a kind of self-deception. In this article I will argue that self-deception and willful ignorance are distinct psychological kinds. First, some examples of willful ignorance are presented and discussed, and an analysis of the phenomenon is developed. Then it is shown that current theories of self-deception give (...) no support to the idea that willful ignorance is a kind of self-deception. Afterwards an independent argument is adduced for excluding willful ignorance from this category. The crucial differences between the two phenomena are explored, as are the reasons why they are so easily conflated. (shrink)
Survey of different definitions of lying and deceiving, with an emphasis on the contemporary debate between Thomas Carson, Roy Sorensen, Don Fallis, Jennifer Saul, Paul Faulkner, Jennifer Lackey, David Simpson, Andreas Stokke, Jorg Meibauer, Seana Shiffrin, and James Mahon, among others, over whether lies always aim to deceive. Related questions include whether lies must be assertions, whether lies always breach trust, whether it is possible to lie without using spoken or written language, whether lies must always be false, whether lies (...) that are unsuccessful are still lies, and whether deception must aim at creating false beliefs as opposed to preventing people from acquiring true beliefs. (shrink)
In this article we argue that self-deception evolved to facilitate interpersonal deception by allowing people to avoid the cues to conscious deception that might reveal deceptive intent. Self-deception has two additional advantages: It eliminates the costly cognitive load that is typically associated with deceiving, and it can minimize retribution if the deception is discovered. Beyond its role in specific acts of deception, self-deceptive self-enhancement also allows people to display more confidence than is warranted, which (...) has a host of social advantages. The question then arises of how the self can be both deceiver and deceived. We propose that this is achieved through dissociations of mental processes, including conscious versus unconscious memories, conscious versus unconscious attitudes, and automatic versus controlled processes. Given the variety of methods for deceiving others, it should come as no surprise that self-deception manifests itself in a number of different psychological processes, and we discuss various types of self-deception. We then discuss the interpersonal versus intrapersonal nature of self-deception before considering the levels of consciousness at which the self can be deceived. Finally, we contrast our evolutionary approach to self-deception with current theories and debates in psychology and consider some of the costs associated with self-deception. (shrink)
Although much human action serves as proof that irrational behaviour is remarkably common, certain forms of irrationalityDSmost incontinent action and self-deceptionDSpose such difficult problems that philosophers have rejected them as logically or psychologically impossible. Here, Alfred Mele shows that incontinent action and self-deception are indeed possible.
Self-deception poses tantalizing conceptual conundrums and provides fertile ground for empirical research. Recent interdisciplinary volumes on the topic feature essays by biologists, philosophers, psychiatrists, and psychologists (Lockard & Paulhus 1988, Martin 1985). Self-deception's location at the intersection of these disciplines is explained by its significance for questions of abiding interdisciplinary interest. To what extent is our mental life present--or even accessible--to consciousness? How rational are we? How is motivated irrationality to be explained? To what extent are our beliefs (...) subject to our control? What are the determinants of belief, and how does motivation bear upon belief? In what measure are widely shared psychological propensities products of evolution? (shrink)
What is it to deceive someone? And how is it possible to deceive oneself? Does self-deception require that people be taken in by a deceitful strategy that they know is deceitful? The literature is divided between those who argue that self-deception is intentional and those who argue that it is non-intentional. In this study, Annette Barnes offers a challenge to both the standard characterisation of other-deception and current characterizations of self-deception, examining the available explanations and exploring (...) such questions as the self-deceiver's false consciousness, bias, and the irrationality and objectionability of self-deception. She arrives at a non-intentional account of self-deception that is deeper and more complete than alternative non-intentional accounts and avoids the reduction of self-deceptive belief to wishful belief. (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)
The intuitive, folk concept of hypocrisy is not a unified moral category. While many theorists hold that all cases of hypocrisy involve some form of deception, I argue that this is not the case. Instead, I argue for a disjunctive account of hypocrisy whereby all cases of “hypocrisy” involve either the deceiving of others about the sincerity of an agent's beliefs or the lack of will to carry through with the demands of an agent's sincere beliefs. Thus, all cases (...) of hypocrisy can be described either as cases of deception or as cases of akrasia. If this analysis correct, then I suggest further that the moral status of all instances of hypocrisy must be reduced either to the moral blameworthiness of deception or to the moral blameworthiness of akrasia. There can be no unified account of the moral wrongness of “hypocrisy” that holds across the disjunction. (shrink)
Is it impossible for a person to do something intentionally without knowing that she is doing it? The phenomenon of self-deceived agency might seem to show otherwise. Here the agent is not lying, yet disavows a correct description of her intentional action. This disavowal might seem expressive of ignorance. However, I show that the self-deceived agent does know what she's doing. I argue that we should understand the factors that explain self-deception as masking rather than negating the practical knowledge (...) characteristic of intentional action. This masking takes roughly the following form: when we are deceiving ourselves about what we are intentionally doing, we don't think about our action because it's painful to do so. (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)
Questions about the morality of lying tend to be decided in a distinctive way early in discussions of Kant’s view on the basis of readings of the false promising example in his Groundwork of The metaphysics of morals. The standard deception-as-interference model that emerges typically yields a very general and strong presumption against deception associated with a narrow and rigorous model subject to a range of problems. In this paper, I suggest an alternative account based on Kant’s discussion (...) of self-deception in the Metaphysics of Morals. I argue that we make the concern with respect for our capacity for inner freedom seen in the case of self-deception the model for deception in general. Focusing on the case of paternalistic lying, I claim that this approach yields a subtle and integrated account that promises the kind of resources we need if we are to be able to make headway with hard cases where deception may seem permissible. (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)
In this paper I will use sex by deception as a case study for highlighting some of the most tricky concepts around sexuality and moral psychology, including rape, consensual sex, sexual rights, sexual autonomy, sexual individuality, and disrespectful sex. I begin with a discussion of morally wrong sex as rooted in the breach of five sexual liberty rights that are derived from our fundamental human liberty rights: sexual self-possession, sexual autonomy, sexual individuality, sexual dignity and sexual privacy. I then (...) argue (against the standard interpretation) that experimental findings in moral psychology show that the principle of respect for persons—a principle that grounds our human liberty rights—drives our intuitive moral judgments. In light of this discussion, I examine a puzzle about sex by deception—a puzzle which at first may seem to compel us to define 'rape' strictly in terms of force rather than sexual autonomy. I proceed by presenting an argument against the view that, as a rule, sex by deception undermines consent—a position held by prominent thinkers such as Philippe Patry (2001), Onora O’Neill (2003), Rubenfeld (2012), Tom Dougherty (2013a, 2013b), Joyce M. Short (2013), and Danielle Bromwich and Joseph Millum (2013, 2018). As we will see, sex following deception to increase your chances does not always constitute rape. Lying about your age, education, job, family background, marital status, or interest in a relationship, for example, does not make your sex partner incapable of consenting, which is to say that sex by deception need not be rape. I even go so far as to say that sex with another person that is facilitated by withholding information about having a venereal disease shouldn't be classified as rape. Although sex by deception doesn't compromise consent, it nonetheless violates the principle of respect for persons, not by vitiating sexual autonomy and compromising consent, but by failing to respect other sexual rights, such as our rights to sexual dignity, individuality, and privacy. (shrink)
Research in the psychology of deception detection implies that Fricker, in making her case for reductionism in the epistemology of testimony, overestimates both the epistemic demerits of the antireductionist policy of trusting speakers blindly and the epistemic merits of the reductionist policy of monitoring speakers for trustworthiness: folk psychological prejudices to the contrary notwithstanding, it turns out that monitoring is on a par (in terms both of the reliability of the process and of the sensitivity of the beliefs that (...) it produces) with blind trust. The consequence is that while (a version of) Fricker’s argument for the necessity of a reduction succeeds, her argument for the availability of reductions fails. This does not, however, condemn us to endorse standard pessimistic reductionism, according to which there is no testimonial knowledge, for recent research concerning the methods used by subjects to discover deception in non-laboratory settings suggests that only a more moderate form of pessimism is in order. (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.
Drawing on a number of recent high-profile cases of corporate corruption, we develop a process model that explains the escalation of deception in corrupt firms. If undetected, an initial lie can begin a process whereby the ease, severity and pervasiveness of deception increases overtime so that it eventually becomes an organization level phenomenon. We propose that organizational complexity has an amplifying effect. A␣feedback loop between organization level deception and each of the escalation stages positively reinforces the process. (...) In addition, moderators are proposed that will halt escalation at various stages. By conceptualizing corporate deception as a social process, the paper contributes to a growing body of research that looks beyond 'bad' individuals for the causes of corporate illegality. (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.
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.
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.
Stubborn belief, like self-deception, is a species of motivated irrationality. The nature of stubborn belief, however, has not been investigated by philosophers, and it is something that poses a challenge to some prominent accounts of self-deception. In this paper, I argue that the case of stubborn belief constitutes a counterexample to Alfred Mele’s proposed set of sufficient conditions for self-deception, and I attempt to distinguish between the two. The recognition of this phenomenon should force an amendment in (...) this account, and should also make a Mele-style deflationist think more carefully about the kinds of motivational factors operating in 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)
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)
Intuitively, affect plays an indispensable role in self-deception’s dynamic. Call this view “affectivism.” Investigating affectivism matters, as affectivists argue that this conception favours the non-intentionalist approach to self-deception and offers a unified account of straight and twisted self-deception. However, this line of argument has not been scrutinized in detail, and there are reasons to doubt it. Does affectivism fulfill its promises of non-intentionalism and unity? We argue that it does, as long as affect’s role in self-deception (...) lies in affective filters—that is, in evaluation of information in light of one’s concerns. We develop this conception by taking into consideration the underlying mechanisms governing self-deception, particularly the neurobiological mechanisms of somatic markers and dopamine regulation. Shifting the discussion to this level can fulfill the affectivist aspirations, as this approach clearly favours non-intentionalism and offers a unified account of self-deception. We support this claim by criticizing the main alternative affectivist account—namely, the views that self-deception functions to reduce anxiety or is motivated by anxiety. Describing self-deception’s dynamic does not require intention; affect is sufficient if we use the insights of neuroscience and the psychology of affective bias to examine this issue. In this way, affectivism can fulfill its promises. (shrink)
Social context shapes negotiators’ actions, including their willingness to act unethically. We use a simulated negotiation to test how three dimensions of social context—dyadic gender composition, negotiation strategy, and trust—interact to influence one micro-ethical decision, the use of deception. Deception in all-male dyads was relatively unaffected by trust or the other negotiator’s strategy. In mixed-sex dyads, negotiators consistently increased their use of deception when three forms of trust were low and opponents used an accommodating strategy. However, in (...) all-female dyads, negotiators appeared to use multiple and shifting reference points in deciding when to deceive the other party. In these dyads, the use of deception increased when a competitive strategy combined with low benevolence-based trust or an accommodating strategy combined with high identity-based trust. Deception in all-female dyads decreased when a competitive strategy was used in the context of low deterrence-based trust. (shrink)
The philosophical difficulties presented by self-deception are vexed and multifaceted. One such difficulty is what I call the ‘doxastic problem’ of self-deception. Solving the doxastic problem involves determining whether someone in a state of self-deception that ∼p both believes that p and believes that ∼p, simply holds one or the other belief, or, as I will argue, holds neither. This final option, which has been almost entirely overlooked to-date, is what I call ‘ nondoxasticism ’ about self- (...) class='Hi'>deception. In this article, I present a negative case for nondoxasticism according to which, in the paradigm case of self-deception, there is no explanatory need to attribute the self-deceived person either their undesired belief that p, or their desired belief that ∼p. Folk psychology is replete with concepts other than belief, and if we bear this in mind, it becomes clear that the explanatory roles for which the self-deceived person's purported beliefs have traditionally been enlisted can be comfortably filled without recourse to belief. (shrink)
In this article I discuss and evaluate the selectivity problem as a problem put forward by Bermudez (1997, 2000) against anti-intentionalist accounts of self-deception. I argue that the selectivity problem can be raised even against intentionalist accounts, which reveals the too demanding constraint that the problem puts on the adequacy of a psychological explanation of action. Finally I try to accommodate the intuitions that support the cogency of the selectivity problem using the resources from the framework provided by an (...) anti-intentionalist account of self-deception. (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)
In instances of "twisted" self-deception, people deceive themselves into believing things that they do not want to be true. In this, twisted self-deception differs markedly from the "straight" variety that has dominated the philosophical and psychological literature on self-deception. Drawing partly upon empirical literature, I develop a trio of approaches to explaining twisted self-deception: a motivation-centered approach; an emotion-centered approach; and a hybrid approach featuring both motivation and emotion. My aim is to display our resources for (...) exploring and explaining twisted self-deception and to show that promising approaches are consistent with a plausible position on straight self-deception. (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)
I raise the question of what cognitive attitude self-deception brings about. That is: what is the product of self-deception? Robert Audi and Georges Rey have argued that self-deception does not bring about belief in the usual sense, but rather “avowal” or “avowed belief.” That means a tendency to affirm verbally (both privately and publicly) that lacks normal belief-like connections to non-verbal actions. I contest their view by discussing cases in which the product of self-deception is implicated (...) in action in a way that exemplifies the motivational role of belief. Furthermore, by applying independent criteria of what it is for a mental state to be a belief, I defend the more intuitive view that being self-deceived that p entails believing that p. Beliefs (i) are the default for action relative to other cognitive attitudes (such as imagining and hypothesis) and (ii) have cognitive governance over the other cognitive attitudes. I explicate these two relations and argue that they obtain for the product of self-deception. (shrink)
In the Groundwork, Immanuel Kant famously argued that it would be self-defeating for everyone to follow a maxim of lying whenever it is to his or her advantage. In his recent book Signals, Brian Skyrms claims that Kant was wrong about the impossibility of universal deception. Skyrms argues that there are Lewisian signaling games in which the sender always sends a signal that deceives the receiver. I show here that these purportedly deceptive signals simply fail to make the receiver (...) as epistemically well off as she could have been. Since the receiver is not actually misled, Kant would not have considered these games to be examples of deception, much less universal deception. However, I argue that there is an important sense of deception, endorsed by Roderick Chisholm and Thomas Feehan in their seminal work on the topic, under which Skyrms has shown that universal deception is possible. (shrink)
In recent years deflationary accounts of self-deception, under the banner of motivationalism, have proven popular. On these views the deception at work is simply a motivated bias. In contrast, we argue for an account of self-deception that involves more robustly deceptive unconscious processes. These processes are strategic, flexible, and demand some retention of the truth. We offer substantial empirical support for unconscious deceptive processes that run counter to certain philosophical and psychological claims that the unconscious is rigid, (...) ballistic, and of limited cognitive sophistication. (shrink)
Using a simulated two-party negotiation, we examined how trustworthiness and power balance affected deception. In order to trigger deception, we used an issue that had no value for one of the two parties. We found that high cognitive trust increased deception whereas high affective trust decreased deception. Negotiators who expressed anxiety also used more deception whereas those who expressed optimism also used less deception. The nature of the negotiating relationship (mutuality and level of dependence) (...) interacted with trust and negotiators’ affect to influence levels of deception. Deception was most likely to occur when negotiators reported low trust or expressed negative emotions in the context of nonmutual or low dependence relationships. In these relationships, emotions that signaled certainty were associated with misrepresentation whereas emotions that signaled uncertainty were associated with concealment of information. Negotiators who expressed positive emotions in the context of a nonmutual or high dependence relationship also used less deception. Our results are consistent with a fair trade model in which negotiator increases deception when contextual and interpersonal cues heighten concerns about exploitation and decrease deception when these cues attenuate concerns about exploitation. (shrink)
This study investigated attitudes toward the use of deception in negotiation, with particular attention to the distinction between deception regarding the informational elements of the interaction (e.g., lying about or misrepresenting needs or preferences) and deception about emotional elements (e.g., misrepresenting one's emotional state). We examined how individuals judge the relative ethical appropriateness of these alternative forms of deception, and how these judgments relate to negotiator performance and long-run reputation. Individuals viewed emotionally misleading tactics as more (...) ethically appropriate to use in negotiation than informational deception. Approval of deception predicted negotiator performance in a negotiation simulation and also general reputation as a negotiator, but the nature of these relationships depended on the kind of deception involved. (shrink)
Mimicry and deception are two important issues in studies about animal communication. The reliability of animal signs and the problem of the benefits of deceiving in sign exchanges are interesting topics in the evolution of communication. In this paper, we intend to contribute to an understanding of deception by studying the case of aggressive signal mimicry in fireflies, investigated by James Lloyd. Firefly femmes fatales are specialized in mimicking the mating signals of other species of fireflies with the (...) purpose of attracting responding males to become their prey. These aggressive mimics are a major factor in the survival and reproduction of both prey and predator. It is a case of deception through active falsification of information that leads to efficient predation by femmes fatales fireflies and triggered evolutionary processes in their preys’ communicative behaviors. There are even nested coevolutionary interactions between these fireflies, leading to a remarkable system of deceptive and counterdeceptive signaling behaviors. We develop here a semiotic model of firefly deception and also consider ideas advanced by Lloyd about the evolution of communication, acknowledging that deception can be part of the explanation of why communication evolves towards increasing complexity. Increasingly complex sign exchanges between fireflies evolve in an extremely slow pace. Even if deceptive maneuvers are played out time and time again between particular firefly individuals, the evolution of the next level of complexity—and thus the next utterance in the dialogue between species—is likely to take an immense amount of generations. (shrink)
The orthodox answer to my question is this: in a case of self-deception, the self acts to deceive itself. That is, the self is the author of its own deception. I want to explore an opposing idea here: that the self is rather the subject matter of the deception. That is, I want to explore the idea that self-deception is more concerned with the self’s deception about the self, than with the self’s deception by (...) the self. The expression would thus be semantically comparable to expressions like ‘self-knowledge’ (which involves knowledge about the self) rather than to expressions like ‘self-control’ (which involves control by the self).1 On this approach, what goes wrong, when we are self-deceived, is that we lack self-knowledge; or, more accurately, since one can lack knowledge without falling into error, what goes wrong is that we have false beliefs about ourselves. Not any kind of false belief about oneself; I am not self-deceived when I mistake my shoe size. Rather, self-deception requires false beliefs about the kind of subject matter that, were one to get it right, would constitute self-knowledge. It is an interesting fact about current English that, though we talk freely of self-knowledge, we have no common term to designate its absence. Seventeenth century writers talked of self-ignorance; but the term has fallen from use. I suggest that ‘self-deception’ is the nearest we have. (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)
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 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.
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)
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)
Cases in which people are self-deceived seem to require that the person hold two contradictory beliefs, something which appears to be impossible or implausible. A phenomenon seen in some brain-damaged patients known as confabulation (roughly, an ongoing tendency to make false utterances without intent to deceive) can shed light on the problem of self-deception. The conflict is not actually between two beliefs, but between two representations, a 'conceptual' one and an 'analog' one. In addition, confabulation yields valuable clues about (...) the structure of normal human knowledge-gathering processes. [The hypothesis defended here is significantly altered and greatly expanded in my book Brain Fiction.]. (shrink)
This paper argues that self-deception cannot be explained without employing a depth-psychological ("psychodynamic") notion of the unconscious, and therefore that mainstream academic psychology must make space for such approaches. The paper begins by explicating the notion of a dynamic unconscious. Then a brief account is given of the "paradoxes" of self-deception. It is shown that a depth-psychological self of parts and subceptive agency removes any such paradoxes. Next, several competing accounts of self-deception are considered: an attentional account, (...) a constructivist account, and a neo-Sartrean account. Such accounts are shown to face a general dilemma: either they are able only to explain unmotivated errors of self-perception--in which case they are inadequate for their intended purpose--or they are able to explain motivated self-deception, but do so only by being instantiation mechanisms for depth-psychological processes. The major challenge to this argument comes from the claim that self-deception has a "logic" different to other-deception--the position of Alfred Mele. In an extended discussion it is shown that any such account is explanatorily adequate only for some cases of self-deception--not by any means all. Concluding remarks leave open to further empirical work the scope and importance of depth-psychological approaches. (shrink)
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)
This paper aims to offer an alternative to the existing philosophical theories of self-deception. It describes and motivates a teleofunctional theory that models self-deception on the subintentional deceptions perpetrated by non-human organisms. Existing theories of self-deception generate paradoxes, are empirically implausible, or fail to account for the distinction between self-deception and other kinds of motivated irrationality. Deception is not a uniquely human phenomenon: biologists have found that many non-human organisms deceive and are deceived. A close (...) analysis of the pollination strategy of the mirror orchid (Ophrys speculum) provides the basis for an analysis of non-human deception as subintentionally purposive. This teleofunctional analysis is then used as the basis for a theory of self-deception that accounts for its normative and purposive features without defaulting to intentionalism. The teleofunctional theory accounts for distinction between self-deception and phenomena such as wishful thinking in an empirically plausible manner. Three objections to the theory are considered and rejected. (shrink)