Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs

Oxford University Press (2009)
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Abstract

Delusions are a common symptom of schizophrenia and dementia. Though most English dictionaries define a delusion as a false opinion or belief, there is currently a lively debate about whether delusions are really beliefs and indeed, whether they are even irrational. The book is an interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of delusions. It brings together the psychological literature on the aetiology and the behavioural manifestations of delusions, and the philosophical literature on belief ascription and rationality. The thesis of the book is that delusions are continuous with ordinary beliefs, a thesis that could have important theoretical and practical implications for psychiatric classification and the clinical treatment of subjects with delusions. By bringing together recent work in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology and psychiatry, the book offers a comprehensive review of the philosophical issues raised by the psychology of normal and abnormal cognition, defends the doxastic conception of delusions, and develops a theory about the role of judgements of rationality and of attributions of self-knowledge in belief ascription. Presenting a highly original analysis of the debate on the nature of delusions, this book will interest philosophers of mind, epistemologists, philosophers of science, cognitive scientists, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals.

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Lisa Bortolotti
University of Birmingham

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