Self-Deception: A Teleofunctional Approach

Philosophia 42 (1):181-199 (2014)
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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



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David Smith
University of New England (United States)

Citations of this work

Self-deception.Ian Deweese-Boyd - 2023 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Deception: a functional account.Marc Artiga & Cédric Paternotte - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):579-600.
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