Finite rational self-deceivers

Research paper by D. S. Neil Van Leeuwen

Indexed on: 31 May '07Published on: 31 May '07Published in: Philosophical Studies


I raise three puzzles concerning self-deception: (i) a conceptual paradox, (ii) a dilemma about how to understand human cognitive evolution, and (iii) a tension between the fact of self-deception and Davidson’s interpretive view. I advance solutions to the first two and lay a groundwork for addressing the third. The capacity for self-deception, I argue, is a spandrel, in Gould’s and Lewontin’s sense, of other mental traits, i.e., a structural byproduct. The irony is that the mental traits of which self-deception is a spandrel/byproduct are themselves rational.