Delusional beliefs and reason giving

Philosophical Psychology 21 (6):801-21 (2008)
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Abstract

Philosophers have been long interested in delusional beliefs and in whether, by reporting and endorsing such beliefs, deluded subjects violate norms of rationality (Campbell 1999; Davies & Coltheart 2002; Gerrans 2001; Stone & Young 1997; Broome 2004; Bortolotti 2005). So far they have focused on identifying the relation between intentionality and rationality in order to gain a better understanding of both ordinary and delusional beliefs. In this paper Matthew Broome and I aim at drawing attention to the extent to which deluded subjects are committed to the content of their delusional beliefs, that is, to whether they can be regarded as authors of their beliefs (Moran 2001). We consider several levels of commitment one can have to a reported belief, delusional or otherwise, and we distinguish between _ownership_ and _authorship_ of beliefs (Gallagher 2000). After examining some examples of belief authoring (or lack thereof) in psychopathology, we argue that there is no straight-forward and unitary answer to the question whether deluded subjects author their beliefs. Nevertheless, introducing the notion of authorship in the debate can significantly contribute to the philosophical literature on the rationality of delusions and can also have important implications for diagnosis and therapy in psychiatry

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