September 3, 2003

Emotion and Desire in Self-Deception

  • Alfred Mele

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According to a traditional view of self-deception, the phenomenon is an intrapersonal analogue of stereotypical interpersonal deception. The author criticizes the traditional conception of self-deception and defends an alternative, deflationary view according to which self-deception does not entail any of the following: intentionally deceiving oneself; intending (or trying) to deceive oneself, or to make it easier for oneself to believe something; concurrently believing each of two contradictory propositions. To put it simply, people enter self-deception in acquiring a belief that "p" if and only if "p" is false and they acquire the belief in a suitably biased way. This paper discusses the biasing causes and processes--especially motivational ones--at length, and leaves it open that a motivationally biased treatment of data is not required for self-deception and that emotions sometimes do the biasing work without motivation’s playing a biasing role. In addition, this paper explores a more moderate thesis about the place of emotion in self-deception.


Citation (Chicago Style):

Mele, Alfred. "Emotion and Desire in Self-Deception." In Philosophy and the Emotions, edited by Anthony Hatzimoysis, 163-179. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.