Midwest Studies in Philosophy 45:457-482 (2021)

I develop the claim that paradigmatic cases of self-deceptive inquiry and belief-formation result from cognitive disorientation. In cognitive disorientation, the data, experiences, and practices we make use of in typical inquiry lead us awry in systematic fashion. The self-deceiver encounters a puzzle or a threat to her picture of the world; this doubt or uncertainty gives rise to questions she struggles to settle. Drawing on the theory of cognitive dissonance, I show that while taking herself to be engaged in the familiar effort to settle a question, she undermines, by her own efforts, her success in achieving that goal. I appeal to two elements of such disorientation: Confusion of Aim and Misleading Feedback. I argue that we can find a role for both in the self-deceiver’s effort to settle a question.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy
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DOI 10.5840/msp2021101213
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