Being Self-Deceived about One’s Own Mental State

Philosophical Quarterly 72 (3):652-672 (2022)
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A familiar puzzle about self-deception concerns how self-deception is possible in light of the paradoxes generated by a plausible way of defining it. A less familiar puzzle concerns how a certain type of self-deception—being self-deceived about one's own intentional mental state—is possible in light of a plausible way of understanding the nature of self-knowledge. According to this understanding, we ordinarily do not infer our mental states from evidence, but then it's puzzling how this sort of self-deception could occur given that self-deception arises from the mistreatment of evidence. This article argues that to accommodate this kind of self-deception we should accept that sometimes ordinary self-knowledge is inferential, but that this idea needn’t be so unappealing. In particular, by showing that such inferential self-knowledge can be both ‘transparent’ and ‘direct’, the article argues that it need not imply having an abnormal, ‘alienated’ relation to the mental state.

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Kevin Lynch
Huaqiao University


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