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Understanding Self-Deception.

A mother sits in a courtroom, overhearing evidence that her son has committed a grave crime. While the evidence convinces everyone else in the courtroom, the mother is unpersuaded—she refuses to believe her son is guilty. This mother is self-deceived about her own son's innocence. Self-deception is considered to be a driving feature of many contemporary issues, from political polarisation to mental disorders. Despite the importance of self-deception, there remains significant gaps in our understanding of the phenomenon. Three such gaps relate to the process of self-deception (how does one successfully deceive themselves?), the outcome of self-deception (what do the self-deceived believe?), and the value of self-deception (is self-deception always harmful or is it sometimes beneficial?). By connecting research on self-deception from philosophy and behavioural economics, I will make progress on each of these issues. First, I will provide a novel philosophical account of the process, outcome, and value of self-deception, based on principles drawn from behavioural economics. Second, I will directly test some of the key research questions from the philosophical literature, by using experimental paradigms adopted from behavioural economics. Finally, I will outline the importance of philosophy to behavioural economic accounts of self-deception.
Date:1 Oct 2021 →  Today
Disciplines:Cognitive processes, Philosophical psychology, Philosophy of mind
Project type:Collaboration project