Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 3, pp 579–600 | Cite as

Deception: a functional account

  • Marc Artiga
  • Cédric PaternotteEmail author


Deception has recently received a significant amount of attention. One of main reasons is that it lies at the intersection of various areas of research, such as the evolution of cooperation, animal communication, ethics or epistemology. This essay focuses on the biological approach to deception and argues that standard definitions put forward by most biologists and philosophers are inadequate. We provide a functional account of deception which solves the problems of extant accounts in virtue of two characteristics: deceptive states have the function of causing a misinformative states and they do not necessarily provide direct benefits to the deceivers and losses to the targets.


Deception Function Signaling Error Mimicry 



We thank the members of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy 2015 reading group on biological information and the audience of the 3rd Philosophy of Biology in the UK Conference (Bristol, 2016), the 21st Valencian Philosophy Conference (Castelló de la Plana, 2016) and the 4th Catalan Philosophy Conference (Vilafranca del Penedés, 2015). This research was partly supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy), the postdoctoral Grant FPDI-2013-16764 and the project “La Complejidad de la Percepción: Un Enfoque Multidimensional” (FFI2014-51811-P).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de FilosofiaUniversitat de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.SND Research Team, UFR de PhilosophieUniversité Paris-SorbonneParisFrance

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