People are biased toward beliefs that are welcomed by their in-group. Some beliefs produced by these biases—such as climate change denial and religious belief—can be fruitfully modeled by signaling theory. The idea is that the beliefs function so as to be detected by others and manipulate their behavior, primarily for the benefits that accrue from favorable tribal self-presentation. Signaling theory can explain the etiology, distinctive form, proper function, and alterability of these beliefs.
The properties colored and red stand in a special relation. Namely, red is a determinate of colored, and colored is determinable relative to red. Many other properties are similarly related. The determination relation is an interesting topic of logical investigation in its own right, and the prominent philosophical inquiries into this relation have, accordingly, operated at a high level of abstraction.1 It is time to return to these investigations, not just as a logical amusement, but for the payoffs such investigation (...) can yield in solving some basic metaphysical problems. The goal in what follows is twofold. First, I argue for a novel understanding of the determination relation. Second, this understanding is applied to yield insights into property instance (e.g., trope) individuation, how different property types can share an instance, the relation between property types and property instances, as well as applications to causation (mental causation, in particular). (shrink)
This book uncovers a logical structure that is common to many, if not all, of the kinds posited by scientific taxonomies. Specification relations, such as those holding between determinates and determinables (determination), are central to this logical investigation of kinds. The species–genus relation is a familiar specification relation for substantival kinds, but this book focuses on adjectival kinds—whose instances are properties—instead. Determination relations are then used to structure kinds at the same level of abstraction into property spaces, which in turn (...) leads to a theory for individuating properties (tropes). These determination relations are contrasted with realization relations, the latter being the favored way of understanding the connection between the mental and the physical. Particular attention is given to the distinction between multiple realizability and multiple determination, and it is argued that determination and realization are mutually exclusive. The claim that multiple realizability entails various senses of autonomy is defended from various reductionist challenges. These theories of determination and realization then provide general standards for establishing the autonomy of the special sciences or, conversely, their reduction. (shrink)
Beliefs serve at least two broad functions. First, they help us navigate the world. Second, they serve as signals to manipulate others. Philosophers and psychologists have focused on the first function while largely overlooking the second. This article advances a conception of signals and makes a prima facie case for a social signaling function for at least some beliefs. Truth and rational support are often irrelevant to the signaling function. If some beliefs evolved for a signaling function, then we should (...) expect various biases that aid in the manipulation of others. (shrink)
Two of the most basic questions regarding self-deception remain unsettled: What do self-deceivers want? What do self-deceivers get? I argue that self-deceivers are motivated by a desire to believe. However, in significant contrast with Alfred Mele’s account of self-deception, I argue that self-deceivers do not satisfy this desire. Instead, the end-state of self-deception is a false higher-order belief. This shows all self-deception to be a failure of self-knowledge.
One version of the Humean Theory of Motivation holds that all actions can be causally explained by reference to a belief–desire pair. Some have argued that pretense presents counter-examples to this principle, as pretense is instead causally explained by a belief-like imagining and a desire-like imagining. We argue against this claim by denying imagination the power of motivation. Still, we allow imagination a role in guiding action as a script . We generalize the script concept to show how things besides (...) imagination can occupy this same role in both pretense and non-pretense actions. The Humean Theory of Motivation should then be modified to cover this script role. (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? ...
Causal overdetermination worries arise in a number of domains, but most notably in the philosophy of mind. ln discussions of such worries, alleged examples of causal overdetermination are uniformly viewed as primajzcie problematic. While all alleged cases of overdetermination might be problematic, I aim to show that they are so for different reasons. Examples of causal overdetermination neatly divide into three varieties, corresponding to the connections between the mechanisms and the properties of the causes. Future debates over overdetermination, and mental (...) causation in particular, should pay heed to this distinction. (shrink)
In recent years deflationary accounts of self-deception, under the banner of motivationalism, have proven popular. On these views the deception at work is simply a motivated bias. In contrast, we argue for an account of self-deception that involves more robustly deceptive unconscious processes. These processes are strategic, flexible, and demand some retention of the truth. We offer substantial empirical support for unconscious deceptive processes that run counter to certain philosophical and psychological claims that the unconscious is rigid, ballistic, and of (...) limited cognitive sophistication. (shrink)
b>: This article explains the concept of multiple realizability and its role in the philosophy of mind. In particular, I consider what is required for the multiple realizability of psychological kinds, the relevance of multiple realizability to the reducibility and autonomy of psychology, as well as further refinements of the concept that would prove helpful.
Some collective irrationalities, like epistemically and pragmatically reckless Covid skepticism, are especially dangerous. While we normally have incentives to avoid dangerous beliefs, there are cases in which the danger of a belief is valuable. This is not captured by most accounts of motivated reasoning. I argue that Covid skepticism can function as a costly signal (handicap) so as to more effectively communicate social identity and commitment.
Deflationists reduce self-deception to a motivated bias, eliminating the need for doxastic tension, divided minds, intentions, or even effortful action. While deflationism fits many cases, there are others that demand more robust psychological processes and complexity. We turn to the empirical literature on self-handicapping to find commonplace examples of self-deception with high levels of agential involvement. Many self-handicappers experience non-trivial doubts, engage in strategic and purposive self-deception, and possess knowledge that must remain unconscious for their project to succeed. This occurs (...) with self-handicapping for the sake of self-esteem regulation. Such self-handicapping not only requires self-deception but also furthers it. (shrink)
This article considers the product of self-deception. Many assume, or argue, that the product of self-deception is a belief. I argue against this being a general truth by outlining some of the ways in which the self-deceived can be deeply conflicted, such that there is no fact of the matter concerning what they believe. These situations are not adequately addressed by many accounts of self-deception. Further, I argue that this task requires going beyond our folk psychological classifications.
While the concept of multiple realizability is widely used, it is seldom rigorously characterized. This paper defends a liberal conception of multiple realizability as sameness of type through _any_ differences in the (lower-level) conditions that give rise to instances of that type. This kind of “sameness through difference” is contrasted with another type of asymmetric dependency relation between properties, multiple _specification_. This liberal conception is then defended from objections, and it is augmented by a concept of relativized multiple realizability. The (...) last section presents a survey of the ontological, explanatory, and methodological consequences of this analysis of multiple realizability. (shrink)
In traditional Frankfurt cases some conditions that make an outcome unavoidable fail to bring about that outcome. These are cases of causal preemption. I defend this interpretation of traditional Frankfurt cases, and its application to free will, against a dilemma raised by various libertarians. But I go on to argue that Frankfurt cases involving gen- uine causal overdetermination are even more eﬀective at achieving the compatibilist’s purposes. Such cases avoid the “ﬂicker of freedom” debate and better display the central disagreement (...) with regard to the Principle of Alternate Possibilities. (shrink)
Bernard Williams has argued that, because belief aims at getting the truth right, it is a conceptual truth that we cannot directly will to believe. Manyothers have adopted Williams’ claim that believers necessarily respect truth-conducive reasons and evidence. By presenting increasingly stronger cases, I argue that, on the contrary, believers can quite consciously disregard the demand for truth-conducive reasons and evidence. The irrationality of those who would directly will to believe is not any greater than that displayed by some actual (...) believers. So, our inability to directly will to believe is a contingent truth (at best). (shrink)
Robert Trivers has proposed perhaps the only serious adaptationist account of self-deception—that the primary function of self-deception is to better deceive others. But this account covers only a subset of cases and needs further refinement. A better evolutionary account of self-deception and cognitive biases more generally will more rigorously recognize the various ways in which false beliefs affect both the self and others. This article offers formulas for determining the optimal doxastic orientation, giving special consideration to conflicted self-deception as an (...) alternative to outright self-delusion. A novel taxonomy of self-deception, as it relates to the beliefs held by others, is also presented. While Trivers makes a plausible case for the adaptive value of certain cognitive biases, a more fragmented and nuanced account of the social forces impacting the evolution of self-deception is needed. (shrink)
Recent work in the cognitive sciences has argued that beliefs sometimes acquire signaling functions in virtue of their ability to reveal information that manipulates “mindreaders.” This paper sketches some of the evolutionary and design considerations that could take agents from solipsistic goal pursuit to beliefs that serve as social signals. Such beliefs will be governed by norms besides just the traditional norms of epistemology. As agents become better at detecting the agency of others, either through evolutionary history or individual learning, (...) the candidate pool for signaling expands. This logic holds for natural and artificial agents that find themselves in recurring social situations that reward the sharing of one’s thoughts. (shrink)
In an earlier paper, we appealed to various empirical studies to make the case that the unconscious mind is capable of robust self-deception. Paul Doody has challenged our interpretations of that empirical evidence. In this reply we defend our interpretations, arguing that the unconscious is engaged in strategic and flexible goal pursuit.
Prima facie, there is an incompatibility between God’s alleged omnipotence and impeccability. I argue that this incompat- ibility is more than prima facie. Attempts to avoid this appearance of incompatibility by allowing that there are commonplace states of affairs that an omnipotent being cannot bring about are unsuc- cessful. Instead, we should accept that God is not omnipotent. This is acceptable since it is a mistake to hold that omnipotence is a perfection. God’s moral perfection should be privileged over God’s (...) potency properties—and the same is true of human beings as well. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article responds to Glazer’s claim that signals must be perceptible as well as his purported counterexample to my conditions for signaling. I defend a broader sense of signal detection that allows for imperceptible signals. While we disagree over the belief-signaling thesis, Glazer and I have great agreement over the social functions of belief.
Self-deceptive projects are frequently supported by our social environment, with others influencing both our motives and capacities for self-deception. Digital spaces offer even more opportunities for interactive self-deception. Digital platforms are incentivized to sort us and capture our engagement, and online users also have desires to be sorted and engaged. The execution of self-deception is partially offloaded to algorithms and social networks that filter our evidence, selectively draw our attention to evidence, offer rationalizations, and give us repetitive and emotion-laden feedback. (...) Nevertheless, this is not so different from what we find in offline environments. Further, most of this offloading of information processing is willingly accepted by users and is in line with their desires. As such, responsibility for any motivationally biased beliefs largely lies with the individual internet user. (shrink)
Philosophical accounts of self-deception almost invariably treat it as a phenomenon concerning belief. But this article argues that, in the very same sense that we can be self-deceived about belief, we can be self-deceived about matters that concern our practical identities — e.g., our desires, emotions, values, and lifestyles. Given that our practical identities are at least as important to us as are our beliefs, philosophical accounts of self-deception should accommodate such practical self-deception.