What Makes Delusions Pathological?

Philosophical Psychology 30 (4):1-22 (2017)
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Bortolotti argues that we cannot distinguish delusions from other irrational beliefs in virtue of their epistemic features alone. Although her arguments are convincing, her analysis leaves an important question unanswered: What makes delusions pathological? In this paper I set out to answer this question by arguing that the pathological character of delusions arises from an executive dysfunction in a subject’s ability to detect relevance in the environment. I further suggest that this dysfunction derives from an underlying emotional imbalance—one that leads delusional subjects to regard some contextual elements as deeply puzzling or highly significant.

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Valentina Petrolini
University of the Basque Country


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