The Product of Self-Deception

Research paper by D. S. Neil Van Leeuwen

Indexed on: 12 Jul '07Published on: 12 Jul '07Published in: Erkenntnis


I raise the question of what cognitive attitude self-deception brings about. That is: what is the product of self-deception? Robert Audi and Georges Rey have argued that self-deception does not bring about belief in the usual sense, but rather “avowal” or “avowed belief.” That means a tendency to affirm verbally (both privately and publicly) that lacks normal belief-like connections to non-verbal actions. I contest their view by discussing cases in which the product of self-deception is implicated in action in a way that exemplifies the motivational role of belief. Furthermore, by applying independent criteria of what it is for a mental state to be a belief, I defend the more intuitive view that being self-deceived that p entails believing that p. Beliefs (i) are the default for action relative to other cognitive attitudes (such as imagining and hypothesis) and (ii) have cognitive governance over the other cognitive attitudes. I explicate these two relations and argue that they obtain for the product of self-deception.