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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
In instances of "twisted" self-deception, people deceive themselves into believing things that they do not want to be true. In this, twisted self-deception differs markedly from the "straight" variety that has dominated the philosophical and psychological literature on self-deception. Drawing partly upon empirical literature, I develop a trio of approaches to explaining twisted self-deception: a motivation-centered approach; an emotion-centered approach; and a hybrid approach featuring both motivation and emotion. My aim is to (...) display our resources for exploring and explaining twisted self-deception and to show that promising approaches are consistent with a plausible position on straight self-deception. (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.
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)
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 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)
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 selfdeception 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)
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)
I assess Tamar Gendler's (2007) account of self-deception according to which its characteristic state is not belief, but imaginative pretense. After giving an overview of the literature and presenting the conceptual puzzles engendered by the notion of self-deception, I introduce Gendler's account, which emerges as a rival to practically all extant accounts of self-deception. I object to it by first arguing that her argument for abandoning belief as the characteristic state of self-deception (...) conflates the state of belief and the process of belief-formation when interpreting David Velleman's (2000) thesis that belief is an essentially truth-directed attitude. I then call attention to the fact that Velleman's argument for the identity of motivational role between belief and imagining, on which Gendler's argument for self-deception as pretense depends, conflates two senses of 'motivational role'-a stronger but implausible sense and a weaker but explanatorily irrelevant sense. Finally, I introduce Neil Van Leeuwen's (2009) argument to the effect that belief is the practical ground of all non-belief cognitive attitudes in circumstances wherein the latter prompt action. I apply this framework to Gendler's account to ultimately show that imaginative pretense fails to explain the existence of voluntary actions which result from self-deception. (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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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. (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)
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)
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?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)
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)
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? ...
I offer a new account of fair-play obligations for non-excludable benefits received from the state. Firstly, I argue that non-acceptance of these benefits frees recipients of fairness obligations only when a counterfactual condition is met; i.e. when non-acceptance would hold up in the closest possible world in which recipients do not hold motivationally-biased beliefs triggered by a desire to free-ride. Secondly, I argue that because of common mechanisms of self-deception there will be recipients who reject these benefits without (...) meeting the counterfactual condition. For this reason, I suggest that those who reject non-excludable benefits provided by the state have a duty to support their rejection with adequate reasons. Failing that, they can be permissibly treated as if they had fair-play obligations (although in fact they might not have them). Thus, I claim that there is a distinction, largely unappreciated, between the question of whether we have a duty of fairness to obey the law and the question of whether we can be permissibly treated as if we had one. (shrink)
Willful ignorance is an important concept in criminal law and jurisprudence, though it has not received much discussion in philosophy. When it is mentioned, however, it is regularly assumed to be a kind of self-deception. In this article I will argue that self-deception and willful ignorance are distinct psychological kinds. First, some examples of willful ignorance are presented and discussed, and an analysis of the phenomenon is developed. Then it is shown that current theories of (...) class='Hi'>self-deception give no support to the idea that willful ignorance is a kind of self-deception. Afterwards an independent argument is adduced for excluding willful ignorance from this category. The crucial differences between the two phenomena are explored, as are the reasons why they are so easily conflated. (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)
In the paper, I examine the conditions that are necessary for the correct characterization of the phenomenon of self-deception. Deflationists believe that the phenomenon of self-deception can be characterized as a kind of motivationally biased belief-forming process. They face the selectivity problem according to which the presence of a desire for something to be the case is not enough to produce a self-deceptive belief. Intentionalists argue that the solution to the selectivity problem consists in invoking (...) the notion of intention. According to them, self-deception involves intentional distortion of one's own belief-forming process. In this paper, I defend the claim that intentionalists also face the problem of selectivity. Accordingly, I argue that this objection cannot be used to determine which theory of self-deception is superior. Furthermore, I argue that limiting folk-psychological explanations to reason-based explanations might be responsible for the resilience of the selectivity problem. In that context, as an additional explanatory factor, I emphasize personality traits that, along with motives, play an important role in the psychological explanation of human behavior. In the rest of the paper, I explore how such an expanded view of the folk-psychological explanation can be used to better capture individual cases of self-deception. (shrink)
Empiricist models explain delusional beliefs by identifying the abnormal experiences which ground them. Recently, this strategy has been adopted to explain the false body size beliefs of anorexia nervosa patients. As such, a number of abnormal experiences of body size which patients suffer from have been identified. These oversized experiences convey false information regarding the patients’ own bodies, indicating that they are larger than reality. However, in addition to these oversized experiences, patients are also exposed to significant evidence suggesting their (...) bodies are in fact thin. This situation poses a conundrum: why do patients appear strongly influenced by the former kinds of evidence while the latter has little effect? To solve this conundrum, I suggest a two-factor account. First, I discuss research on the biases patients exhibit in how they gather, attend to and interpret evidence related to their own body size. Such biases in evidence treatment, I suggest, cause oversized experiences to be sought out, attended to and accepted, while veridical body size experiences are ignored or explained away. These biases constitute the second factor for this empiricist model, accounting for the unwarranted conviction with which these beliefs are held. Finally, in line with recent research into self-deception, I propose that, paradoxically, these biases in evidence treatment arise from patients’ own desires. (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)
In this paper, I defend the view that self-deception is a moral failure. Instead of saying that self-deception is bad because it undermines our moral character or leads to morally deleterious consequences, as has been argued by Butler, Kant, Smith, and others, I argue the distinctive badness of self-deception lies in the tragic relationship that it bears to our own values. On the one hand, self-deception is motivated by what we value. On (...) the other hand, it prevents us from valuing those things properly. I argue that we owe it ourselves to take seriously our own values, by striving to properly value them. This gives us both prudential and moral reasons to avoid self-deception. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that a literal understanding of someone’s self-deception that p yields the following contradiction. Qua self-deceiver, she does not believe that p, yet – qua self-deceived – she does believe that p. I argue that this assumption is ill-founded. Literalism about self-deception – the view that self-deceivers literally self-deceive – is not committed to this contradiction. On the contrary, properly understood, literalism excludes it.
By systematically biasing our beliefs, self-deception can endanger our ability to successfully convey our messages. It can also lead lies to degenerate into more severe damages in relationships. Accordingly, I suggest that the biases reviewed in the target article do not aim at self-deception but instead are the by-products of several other mechanisms: our natural tendency to self-enhance, the confirmation bias inherent in reasoning, and the lack of access to our unconscious minds.
Cases in which people are self-deceived seem to require that the person hold two contradictory beliefs, something which appears to be impossible or implausible. A phenomenon seen in some brain-damaged patients known as confabulation (roughly, an ongoing tendency to make false utterances without intent to deceive) can shed light on the problem of self-deception. The conflict is not actually between two beliefs, but between two representations, a 'conceptual' one and an 'analog' one. In addition, confabulation yields valuable (...) clues about the structure of normal human knowledge-gathering processes. [The hypothesis defended here is significantly altered and greatly expanded in my book Brain Fiction.]. (shrink)
What is it to deceive someone? And how is it possible to deceive oneself? Does self-deception require that people be taken in by a deceitful strategy that they know is deceitful? The literature is divided between those who argue that self-deception is intentional and those who argue that it is non-intentional. In this study, Annette Barnes offers a challenge to both the standard characterisation of other-deception and current characterizations of self-deception, examining the available (...) explanations and exploring such questions as the self-deceiver's false consciousness, bias, and the irrationality and objectionability of self-deception. She arrives at a non-intentional account of self-deception that is deeper and more complete than alternative non-intentional accounts and avoids the reduction of self-deceptive belief to wishful belief. (shrink)
In this entry, I seek to show the interdependence of questions about self-deception in philosophy of mind, psychology, and ethics. I taxonomize solutions to the paradoxes of self-deception, present possible psychological mechanisms behind it, and highlight how different approaches to the philosophy of mind and psychology will affect how we answer important ethical questions. Is self-deception conducive to happiness? How does self-deception affect responsibility? Is there something intrinsically wrong with self-deception? (...) The entry, on the one hand, is a tour of the literature; on the other, it is a case for more work that crosses traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries. (shrink)
Zhu Xi believes that if one attains genuine knowledge of good and evil, one will do good and avoid evil wholeheartedly. As a result, the phenomena of self-deception and akrasia pose a challenge to his moral psychology. On his deathbed, he revised his commentary on self-deception and sincerity in the book Great Learning. His final explanatory model could be understood as a moderate version of intentionalism: a self-deceiver tacitly allows room for thoughts that run counter (...) to his ethical beliefs, even if this potentially undermines his integrity. This model highlights two major causes for self-deception: uncritical self-trust and the dubious ethical status of first-order desires. Zhu contends that thoughts cannot render themselves sincere on their own. As a remedy, he advocates an open-minded dialogue with the cultural world documented in the classics so as to avoid the myopia of the self. (shrink)
I argue here that self-deception is not conducive to happiness. There is a long train of thought in social psychology that seems to say that it is, but proper understanding of the data does not yield this conclusion. Illusion must be distinguished from mere imagining. Self-deception must be distinguished from self-inflation bias and from self-fulfilling belief. Once these distinctions are in place, the case for self-deception falls apart. Furthermore, by yielding false beliefs, (...)self-deception undermines desire satisfaction. Finally, I argue for the positive view that *honest imagining* can yield the psychological benefits that others have claimed for self-deception. (shrink)