Is Self-Deception Pretense?

Manuscrito 37 (2):291-332 (2014)
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Abstract

I assess Tamar Gendler's (2007) account of self-deception according to which its characteristic state is not belief, but imaginative pretense. After giving an overview of the literature and presenting the conceptual puzzles engendered by the notion of self-deception, I introduce Gendler's account, which emerges as a rival to practically all extant accounts of self-deception. I object to it by first arguing that her argument for abandoning belief as the characteristic state of self-deception conflates the state of belief and the process of belief-formation when interpreting David Velleman's (2000) thesis that belief is an essentially truth-directed attitude. I then call attention to the fact that Velleman's argument for the identity of motivational role between belief and imagining, on which Gendler's argument for self-deception as pretense depends, conflates two senses of 'motivational role'-a stronger but implausible sense and a weaker but explanatorily irrelevant sense. Finally, I introduce Neil Van Leeuwen's (2009) argument to the effect that belief is the practical ground of all non-belief cognitive attitudes in circumstances wherein the latter prompt action. I apply this framework to Gendler's account to ultimately show that imaginative pretense fails to explain the existence of voluntary actions which result from self-deception.

Author's Profile

José Eduardo Porcher
Federal University of Santa Maria

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