Self-deception raises complex questions about the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. In this book, Alfred Mele addresses four of the most critical of these questions: What is it to deceive oneself? How do we deceive ourselves? Why do we deceive ourselves? Is self-deception really possible? -/- Drawing on cutting-edge empirical research on everyday reasoning and biases, Mele takes issue with commonplace attempts to equate the processes of self-deception with those of stereotypical interpersonal (...)deception. Such attempts, he demonstrates, are fundamentally misguided, particularly in the assumption that self-deception is intentional. In their place, Mele proposes a compelling, empirically informed account of the motivational causes of biased beliefs. At the heart of this theory is an appreciation of how emotion and motivation may, without our knowing it, bias our assessment of evidence for beliefs. Highlighting motivation and emotion, Mele develops a pair of approaches for explaining the two forms of self-deception: the "straight" form, in which we believe what we want to be true, and the "twisted" form, in which we believe what we wish to be false. -/- Underlying Mele's work is an abiding interest in understanding and explaining the behavior of real human beings. The result is a comprehensive, elegant, empirically grounded theory of everyday self-deception that should engage philosophers and social scientists alike. (shrink)
Throughout his writings, and particularly in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Kant alludes to the idea that evil is connected to self-deceit, and while numerous commentators regard this as a highly attractive thesis, none have seriously explored it. Kant on Evil, Self-Deception, and Moral Reform addresses this crucial element of Kant's ethical theory. -/- Working with both Kant's core texts on ethics and materials less often cited within scholarship on Kant's practical philosophy (such as Kant's logic lectures), (...) Papish explores the cognitive dimensions of Kant's accounts of evil and moral reform while engaging the most influential -- and often scathing -- of Kant's critics. Her book asks what self-deception is for Kant, why and how it is connected to evil, and how we achieve the self-knowledge that should take the place of self-deceit. (shrink)
Although much human action serves as proof that irrational behaviour is remarkably common, certain forms of irrationalityDSmost incontinent action and self-deceptionDSpose such difficult problems that philosophers have rejected them as logically or psychologically impossible. Here, Alfred Mele shows that incontinent action and self-deception are indeed possible.
Deception has recently received a significant amount of attention. One of main reasons is that it lies at the intersection of various areas of research, such as the evolution of cooperation, animal communication, ethics or epistemology. This essay focuses on the biological approach to deception and argues that standard definitions put forward by most biologists and philosophers are inadequate. We provide a functional account of deception which solves the problems of extant accounts in virtue of two characteristics: (...) deceptive states have the function of causing a misinformative states and they do not necessarily provide direct benefits to the deceivers and losses to the targets. (shrink)
In his 2018 AJP paper, Shlomo Cohen hints that deception could be a distinct subset of manipulation. We pursue this thought further, but by arguing that Cohen’s accounts of deception and manipulation are incorrect. Deception under uncertainty need not involve adding false premises to the victim’s reasoning but it must involve manipulating her response, and cases of manipulation that do not interfere with the victim’s reasoning, but rather utilize it, also exist. Therefore, deception under uncertainty must (...) be constituted by covert manipulation. (shrink)
Philosophical accounts of self-deception can be divided into two broad groups – the intentionalist and the anti-intentionalist. On intentionalist models what happens in the central cases of self-deception is parallel to what happens when one person intentionally deceives another, except that deceiver and deceived are the same person. This paper offers a positive argument for intentionalism about self-deception and defends the view against standard objections.
To what extent do self-deception and delusion overlap? In this paper we argue that both self-deception and delusions can be understood in folk-psychological terms. “Motivated” delusions, just like self-deception, can be described as beliefs driven by personal interests. If self-deception can be understood folk-psychologically because of its motivational component, so can motivated delusions. Non-motivated delusions also fit the folk-psychological notion of belief, since they can be described as hypotheses one endorses when attempting to make sense of (...) unusual and powerful experiences. We suggest that there is continuity between the epistemic irrationality manifested in self-deception and in delusion. (shrink)
Altruistic Deception.Jonathan Birch - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 74:27-33.details
Altruistic deception (or the telling of “white lies”) is common in humans. Does it also exist in non-human animals? On some definitions of deception, altruistic deception is impossible by definition, whereas others make it too easy by counting useful-but-ambiguous information as deceptive. I argue for a definition that makes altruistic deception possible in principle without trivializing it. On my proposal, deception requires the strategic exploitation of a receiver by a sender, where “exploitation” implies that the (...) sender elicits a behaviour in the receiver that is beneficial in a different type of situation and is expressed only because the signal raises the probability, from the receiver’s standpoint, of that type of situation. I then offer an example of a real signal that is deceptive in this sense, and yet potentially altruistic (and certainly cooperative): the purr call of the pied babbler. Fledglings associate purr calls with food, and adults exploit this learned association, in the absence of food, to lead fledglings away from predators following an alarm call. I conclude by considering why altruistic deception is apparently so rare in non-human animals. (shrink)
Godfrey-Smith advocates for linking deception in sender-receiver games to the existence of undermining signals. I present games in which deceptive signals can be arbitrarily frequent, without this undermining information transfer between sender and receiver.
My central question in this paper is how delusional beliefs are related to self-deception. In section 1, I summarize my position on what self-deception is and how representative instances of it are to be explained. I turn to delusions in section 2, where I focus on the Capgras delusion, delusional jealousy (or the Othello syndrome), and the reverse Othello syndrome.
Students of philosophy, psychology, sociology, and literature will welcome this collection of original essays on self-deception and related phenomena such as wishful thinking, bad faith, and false consciousness. The book has six sections, each exploring self-deception and related phenomena from a different perspective.
In the philosophical literature, self-deception is mainly approached through the analysis of paradoxes. Yet, it is agreed that self-deception is motivated by protection from distress. In this paper, we argue, with the help of findings from cognitive neuroscience and psychology, that self-deception is a type of affective coping. First, we criticize the main solutions to the paradoxes of self-deception. We then present a new approach to self-deception. Self-deception, we argue, involves three appraisals of the (...) distressing evidence: (a) appraisal of the strength of evidence as uncertain, (b) low coping potential and (c) negative anticipation along the lines of Damasio’s somatic marker hypothesis. At the same time, desire impacts the treatment of flattering evidence via dopamine. Our main proposal is that self-deception involves emotional mechanisms provoking a preference for immediate reward despite possible long-term negative repercussions. In the last part, we use this emotional model to revisit the philosophical paradoxes. (shrink)
I propose that paradigmatic cases of self-deception satisfy the following conditions: (a) the person who is self-deceived about not-P pretends (in the sense of makes-believe or imagines or fantasizes) that not-P is the case, often while believing that P is the case and not believing that not-P is the case; (b) the pretense that not-P largely plays the role normally played by belief in terms of (i) introspective vivacity and (ii) motivation of action in a wide range of circumstances. (...) Understanding self-deception in this way is highly natural. And it provides a non-paradoxical characterization of the phenomenon that explains both its distinctive patterns of instability and its ordinary association with irrationality. Why, then, has this diagnosis been overlooked? I suggest that the oversight is due to a failure to recognize the philosophical significance of a crucial fact about the human mind, namely, the degree to which attitudes other than belief often play a central role in our mental and practical lives, both by "influenc[ing our]... passions and imagination," and by "governing.. .our actions.". (shrink)
Self-Deception and the Common Life investigates the topic of self-deception from three points of view: philosophical psychology, ethics, and theology. Empirical evidence and an -ordinary language- analysis support the case that the linguistic expression 'self-deception' is literally meaningful and that the language of the common life can be trusted. After critically analyzing the cognition, translation, and action accounts, along with the contributions of Freud and Sartre, Steffen proposes a new synthetic -emotional perception- account, one that avoids paradox. (...) Giving attention to relevant moral issues, he argues that self-deception is not immoral, but represents a peculiar form of akrasia. Finally, because theologians employ 'self-deception' to describe the cognitive component of sin, Steffen considers the logic of theological self-deception. His study seeks an -intimate acquaintance- with self-deception and exemplifies a method of analysis relevant to constructive theological inquiry.". (shrink)
In this paper, I take up the question of whether the phenomenon of self-deception requires a radical sort of partitioning of the mind, and argue that it does not. Most of those who argue in favor of partitioning accept a model of self-deception according to which the self-deceived person desires to and intentionally sets out to form a certain belief that she knows to be false. Such a model is similar to that of deception of other persons, (...) and for this reason is thought to require that the self-deceiver’s mind be partitioned; one “part” of her knows the truth, while the other “part” is convinced of a false belief. I argue that while both the partitionist model and its main competitor should be rejected, each contains a key insight. On the one hand, anti-partitionist models correctly invoke some sort of desire or motivation on the part of self-deceivers as playing a role in the acquisition of their beliefs. But it is partitionists who identify the right sort of desire, namely, the desire to believe. (shrink)
This paper proposes that self-deception results from the emotional coherence of beliefs with subjective goals. We apply the HOTCO computational model of emotional coherence to simulate a rich case of self-deception from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.We argue that this model is more psychologically realistic than other available accounts of self-deception, and discuss related issues such as wishful thinking, intention, and the division of the self.
A prevalent assumption among philosophers who believe that people can intentionally deceive themselves (intentionalists) is that they accomplish this by controlling what evidence they attend to. This article is concerned primarily with the evaluation of this claim, which we may call ‘attentionalism’. According to attentionalism, when one justifiably believes/suspects that not-p but wishes to make oneself believe that p, one may do this by shifting attention away from the considerations supportive of the belief that not-p and onto considerations supportive of (...) the belief that p. The details of this theory are elaborated, its theoretical importance is pointed out, and it is argued that the strategy is supposed to work by leading to the repression of one’s knowledge of the unwelcome considerations. However, I then show that the assumption that this is possible is opposed by the balance of a relevant body of empirical research, namely, the thought-suppression literature, and so intentionalism about self-deception cannot find vindication in the attentional theory. (shrink)
In this article, I defend a discomfiting thesis: The clinical ethicist should sometimes be an active participant in the deception of patients and families. The case for this conclusion builds off Sissela Bok’s seminal analysis of lying, from which I emphasize that, despite some common intuitions to the contrary, there is prima facie no morally relevant difference between lies of omission and commission. I then discuss deception’s prevalence in medical encounters, noting that the ethicist is often embedded in (...) corresponding decisions, and explicate the realities that underlie these tough cases. Among those realities is the fallacy that deception can always be avoided through better communication. I conclude with an elaboration of ethicists’ role-model status and argue that they can turn the deception into a powerful teaching moment about the complexity of ethics reasoning. (shrink)
Deception of subjects is used frequently in the social sciences. Examples are provided. The ethics of experimental deception are discussed, in particular various maneuvers to solve the problem. The results have implications for the use of deception in the biomedical sciences.
The aim of this paper is to provide an account of a certain variety of self-deception based on a model of self-knowledge. According to this model, one thinks that one has a belief on the basis of one’s grounds for that belief. If this model is correct, then our thoughts about which beliefs we have should be in accordance with our grounds for those beliefs. I suggest that the relevant variety of self deception is a failure of self-knowledge (...) wherein the subject violates this epistemic obligation. I argue that construing this type of self-deception as a failure of selfknowledge explains two important aspects of it: The tension that we observe between the subject’s speech and her actions, and our inclination to hold the subject responsible for her condition. I compare this proposal with two other approaches to self-deception in the literature; intentionalism and motivationalism. Intentionalism explains the two aspects of self-deception but it runs into the so called ‘paradoxes’ of self-deception. Motivationalism avoids those paradoxes but it cannot explain the two aspects of self-deception. (shrink)
Stubborn belief, like self-deception, is a species of motivated irrationality. The nature of stubborn belief, however, has not been investigated by philosophers, and it is something that poses a challenge to some prominent accounts of self-deception. In this paper, I argue that the case of stubborn belief constitutes a counterexample to Alfred Mele’s proposed set of sufficient conditions for self-deception, and I attempt to distinguish between the two. The recognition of this phenomenon should force an amendment in (...) this account, and should also make a Mele-style deflationist think more carefully about the kinds of motivational factors operating in self-deception. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The self-deceived are usually held to be moral responsible for their state. I argue that this attribution of responsibility makes sense only against the background of the traditional conception of self-deception, a conception that is now widely rejected. In its place, a new conception of self-deception has been articulated, which requires neither intentional action by self-deceived agents, nor that they possess contradictory beliefs. This new conception has neither need nor place for attributions of moral responsibility to the self-deceived (...) in paradigmatic cases. Accordingly, we should take the final step toward abandoning the traditional conception, and drop the automatic attribution of responsibility. Self-deception is simply a kind of mistake, and has no more necessary connection to culpability than have other intellectual errors. (shrink)
Self-deception is typically considered epistemically irrational, for it involves holding certain doxastic attitudes against strong counter-evidence. Pragmatic encroachment about epistemic rationality says that whether it is epistemically rational to believe, withhold belief or disbelieve something can depend on perceived practical factors of one’s situation. In this paper I argue that some cases of self-deception satisfy what pragmatic encroachment considers sufficient conditions for epistemic rationality. As a result, we face the following dilemma: either we revise the received view about (...) self-deception or we deny pragmatic encroachment on epistemic rationality. I suggest that the dilemma can be solved if we pay close attention to the distinction between ideal and bounded rationality. I argue that the problematic cases fail to meet standards of ideal rationality but exemplify bounded rationality. The solution preserves pragmatic encroachment on bounded rationality, but denies it on ideal rationality. (shrink)
Is it ethical to deceive the individuals who participate in psychological experiments for methodological reasons? We argue against an absolute ban on the use of deception in psychological research. The potential benefits of many psychological experiments involving deception consist in allowing individuals and society to gain morally significant self-knowledge that they could not otherwise gain. Research participants gain individual self-knowledge which can help them improve their autonomous decision-making. The community gains collective self-knowledge that, once shared, can play a (...) role in shaping education, informing policies and in general creating a more efficient and just society. (shrink)
Self-Deception, Properly understood, Is not paradoxical. Although self-Deception involves motivated false belief, It is not properly modeled after "intentional" interpersonal deception. Thus, The major source of paradox is dissolved. Moreover, Even intentional self-Deception need not be paradoxical and there is good reason to believe that a kind of self-Deception which "would" be paradoxical never occurs. Finally, In cases of self-Deception, As in instances of akratic action, There is scope for blame.
Many intelligent, capable, and successful individuals believe that their success is due to luck and fear that they will someday be exposed as imposters. A puzzling feature of this phenomenon, commonly referred to as imposter syndrome, is that these same individuals treat evidence in ways that maintain their false beliefs and debilitating fears: they ignore and misattribute evidence of their own abilities, while readily accepting evidence in favour of their inadequacy. I propose a novel account of imposter syndrome as an (...) instance of self-deception, whereby biased evidence treatment is driven by the motivational benefit of negative self-appraisal. This account illuminates a number of interconnected philosophical and scientific puzzles related to the explanation, definition, and value of imposter syndrome. (shrink)
Although Kant is one of the very few classical writers referred to in the current literature on lying, hardly any attention is paid to how his views relate to the contemporary discussion on the definition of lying. I argue that, in Kant’s account, deception is not the defining feature of lying. Furthermore, his view is able to acknowledge non-deceptive lies. Kant thus holds, I suggest, a version of what is currently labelled Intrinsic Anti-Deceptionism. In his specific version of such (...) a view, furthermore, dishonesty is the distinctive feature of lying. Finally, I highlight the important methodological differences between Kant’s normatively minded account and the primarily descriptive contemporary discussion, with regard to the role of intuitions and definitions in building a moral theory: In contrast to the current debate, Kant does not rely on intuitions, but defines lying in terms of the obligation it violates. (shrink)
Virtually every aspect of the current philosophical discussion of self-deception is a matter of controversy including its definition and paradigmatic cases. We may say generally, however, that self-deception is the acquisition and maintenance of a belief (or, at least, the avowal of that belief) in the face of strong evidence to the contrary motivated by desires or emotions favoring the acquisition and retention of that belief. Beyond this, philosophers divide over whether this action is intentional or not, whether (...) self-deceivers recognize the belief being acquired is unwarranted on the available evidence, whether self-deceivers are morally responsible for their self-deception, and whether self-deception is morally problematic (and if it is in what ways and under what circumstances). The discussion of self-deception and its associated puzzles gives us insight into the ways in which motivation affects belief acquisition and retention. And yet insofar as self-deception represents an obstacle to self-knowledge, which has potentially serious moral implications, self-deception is more than an interesting philosophical puzzle. It is a problem of particular concern for moral development, since self-deception can make us strangers to ourselves and blind to our own moral failings. (shrink)
I characterize a notion of internal irrationality which is central to hard cases of self-deception. I argue that if we aim to locate such internal irrationality in the _process of self-deception, we must fail. The process of self-deception, I claim, is a wholly arational affair. If we are to make a place for internal irrationality we must turn our attention to the _state of self-deception. I go on to argue that we are able to offer an (...) account of this peculiar form of irrationality only if we recognize the role the self-deceiver's own efforts at self-explanation play in the generation of internal irrationality. (shrink)
In this article I discuss and evaluate the selectivity problem as a problem put forward by Bermudez (1997, 2000) against anti-intentionalist accounts of self-deception. I argue that the selectivity problem can be raised even against intentionalist accounts, which reveals the too demanding constraint that the problem puts on the adequacy of a psychological explanation of action. Finally I try to accommodate the intuitions that support the cogency of the selectivity problem using the resources from the framework provided by an (...) anti-intentionalist account of self-deception. (shrink)
Self-deception is a special kind of motivational dominance in belief-formation. We develop criteria which set paradigmatic self-deception apart from related phenomena of automanipulation such as pretense and motivational bias. In self-deception rational subjects defend or develop beliefs of high subjective importance in response to strong counterevidence. Self-deceivers make or keep these beliefs tenable by putting prima-facie rational defense-strategies to work against their established standards of rational evaluation. In paradigmatic self-deception, target-beliefs are made tenable via reorganizations of (...) those belief-sets that relate relevant data to target-beliefs. This manipulation of the evidential value of relevant data goes beyond phenomena of motivated perception of data. In self-deception belief-defense is pseudo-rational. Self-deceivers will typically apply a dual standard of evaluation that remains intransparent to the subject. The developed model of self-deception as pseudo-rational belief-defense is empirically anchored. (shrink)
This article explores the alleged “selectivity problem” for Alfred Mele’s deflationary position on self-deception, a problem that can allegedly be solved only by appealing to intentions to bring it about that one acquires certain beliefs, or to make it easier for oneself to acquire certain beliefs, or to deceive oneself into believing that p. This article argues for the following thesis: the selectivity problem does not undermine this deflationary position on self-deception, and anyone who takes it to be (...) a problem for this position should regard it as being just as serious a problem for those who advocate the intention-featuring solution at issue. (shrink)
Is it possible for me to believe what I know not to be the case? It certainly does not seem possible for me, at the same time, to be aware of the fact that a given proposition is true and yet believe that the proposition is false. Models of self?deception which have the implication that this is possible are usually described as ?paradoxical?. However, many philosophers believe that there are genuine cases of self?deception which non?paradoxical models of self? (...) class='Hi'>deception mirror and elucidate. In the present article the author considers what he takes to be the leading contenders among non?paradoxical (or seemingly non?paradoxical) models of self?deception. He concludes from his analysis that it is not clear that any of these models mirror actual cases of self?deception and that it is not even obvious that there are actual cases of self?deception to be mirrored. (shrink)
An invalid promise is one whose breach does not wrong the promisee. I describe two different accounts of why duress and deception invalidate promises. According to the fault account duress and deception invalidate a promise just when it was wrong for the promisee to induce the promisor to promise in that way. According to the injury account, duress and deception invalidate a promise just when by inducing the promise in that way the promisee wrongs the promisor. I (...) demonstrate that the injury account is superior. I then argue that in this respect promising is like any exercise of a normative power. I conclude by distinguishing two theories of promissory obligation, a widely held view which I call the information interest theory and an alternative which I call the authority interest theory. I argue that the points established earlier support the authority interest theory over its rival. (shrink)
Self-deception poses longstanding and fascinating paradoxes. Philosophers have questioned whether, and how, self-deception is even possible; evolutionary theorists have debated whether it is adaptive. For Sigmund Freud self-deception was a fundamental key to understanding the unconscious, and from The Bible to The Great Gatsby literature abounds with characters renowned for their self-deception. But what exactly is self-deception? Why is it so puzzling? How is it performed? And is it harmful? ...
Marko Jurjako’s article “Self-deception and the selectivity problem” (Jurjako 2013) offers a very interesting discussion of intentionalist approaches to self-deception and in particular the selectivity objection to anti-intentionalism raised in Bermúdez 1997 and 2000. This note responds to Jurjako’s claim that intentionalist models of self-deception face their own version of the selectivity problem, offering an account of how intentions are formed that can explain the selectivity of self-deception, even in the “common or garden” cases that Jurjako (...) emphasizes. (shrink)
Self-deception poses tantalizing conceptual conundrums and provides fertile ground for empirical research. Recent interdisciplinary volumes on the topic feature essays by biologists, philosophers, psychiatrists, and psychologists (Lockard & Paulhus 1988, Martin 1985). Self-deception's location at the intersection of these disciplines is explained by its significance for questions of abiding interdisciplinary interest. To what extent is our mental life present--or even accessible--to consciousness? How rational are we? How is motivated irrationality to be explained? To what extent are our beliefs (...) subject to our control? What are the determinants of belief, and how does motivation bear upon belief? In what measure are widely shared psychological propensities products of evolution? (shrink)
I argue that the extant theories of self-deception face a counterexample which shows the essential role of instability in the face of attentive consciousness in characterising self-deception. I argue further that this poses a challenge to the interpretist approach to the mental. I consider two revisions of the interpretist approach which might be thought to deal with this challenge and outline why they are unsuccessful. The discussion reveals a more general difficulty for Interpretism. Principles of reasoning—in particular, the (...) requirement of total evidence—are given a weight in attentive consciousness which does not correspond to our reflective judgement of their weight. Successful interpretation does not involve ascribing beliefs and desires by reference to what a subject ought to believe and desire, contrary to what Interpretists suggest. (shrink)
A major problem posed by cases of self-deception concerns the inconsistent behavior of the self-deceived subject (SDS). How can this be accounted for, in terms of propositional attitudes and other mental states? In this paper, we argue that key problems with two recent putative solutions, due to Mele and Archer, are avoided by “the shifting view” that has been advanced elsewhere in order to explain cases where professed beliefs conflict with actions. We show that self-deceived agents may possess highly (...) unstable degrees of belief concerning the matters about which they are self-deceived. (shrink)