Distal versus proximal mechanisms of “real” self-deception

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (1):120-121 (1997)
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There is little fear that the concept of motivational bias as proposed by Mele is likely to dampen the current academic ferment (see Mele's Introduction) with respect to self-deception for several reasons: (a) like philosophy, science has more recently abandoned the heuristic of a rational human mind; (b) the concept is parsimonious, applicable to many research topics other than self-deception, and, therefore, scientifically serviceable; (c) as a proximal mechanism it addresses process rather than function, that is, how rather than why questions; (d) it is not as interesting a question as why there is a high prevalence of “real” self-deception (i.e., “garden-variety self-deception” as described by Mele, see sect. 6); and (e) a more penetrating issue is whether “real” self-deception is adaptive.



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