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Self-deception and belief attribution


One of the most common views about self-deception ascribes contradictory beliefs to the self-deceiver. In this paper it is argued that this view (the contradiction strategy) is inconsistent with plausible common-sense principles of belief attribution. Other dubious assumptions made by contradiction strategists are also examined. It is concluded that the contradiction strategy is an inadequate account of self-deception. Two other well-known views — those of Robert Audi and Alfred Mele — are investigated and found wanting. A new theory of self-deception relying on an extension of Mark Johnston's subintentional mental tropisms is proposed and defended.

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Hales, S.D. Self-deception and belief attribution. Synthese 101, 273–289 (1994).

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  • Common View
  • Belief Attribution
  • Contradictory Belief
  • Dubious Assumption
  • Inadequate Account