Self-deception and selectivity

  • Alfred R. MeleEmail author


This article explores the alleged “selectivity problem” for Alfred Mele’s deflationary position on self-deception, a problem that can allegedly be solved only by appealing to intentions to bring it about that one acquires certain beliefs, or to make it easier for oneself to acquire certain beliefs, or to deceive oneself into believing that p. This article argues for the following thesis: (1) the selectivity problem does not undermine this deflationary position on self-deception, and (2) anyone who takes it to be a problem for this position should regard it as being just as serious a problem for those who advocate the intention-featuring solution at issue.


Belief Deception Intention Selectivity problem Self-deception 



I presented versions of this article at Error! Main Document Only. Ruhr-University Bochum and the University of Basel. I am grateful to my audiences for their input.


  1. Baghramian, M., & Nicholson, A. (2013). The puzzle of self-deception. Philosophy Compass, 8, 1018–1029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagnoli, C. (2012). Self-deception and agential authority. Humana. Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies, 20, 99–116.Google Scholar
  3. Bermúdez, J. (1997). Defending intentionalist accounts of self-deception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 20, 107–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bermúdez, J. (2000). Self-deception, intentions, and contradictory beliefs. Analysis, 60, 309–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bermúdez, J. (2017). Self-deception and selectivity: Reply to Jurjako. Croatian Journal of Philosophy, 17, 91–95.Google Scholar
  6. Cerovac, I. (2015). Intentionalism as a theory of self-deception. Balkan Journal of Philosophy, 7, 145–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Deweese-Boyd, I. (2011). Self-deception. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2011 Ed.). Accessed 22 May 2018.
  8. Friedrich, J. (1993). Primary error detection and minimization PEDMIN strategies in social cognition: A reinterpretation of confirmation bias phenomena. Psychological Review, 100, 298–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Galeotti, A. (2012). Self-deception: Intentional plan or mental event. Humana. Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies, 20, 41–66.Google Scholar
  10. Gigerenzer, G., & Hug, K. (1992). Domain-specific reasoning: Social contracts, cheating, and perspective change. Cognition, 43, 127–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jurjako, M. (2013). Self-deception and the selectivity problem. Balkan Journal of Philosophy, 5, 151–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lauria, F., Preissmann, D., & Clémenta, F. (2016). Self-deception as affective coping. An empirical perspective on philosophical issues. Consciousness and Cognition, 41, 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mele, A. (1983). Self-deception. Philosophical Quarterly, 33, 365–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mele, A. (1997). Real self-deception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 20, 91–102.Google Scholar
  15. Mele, A. (1998). Motivated belief and agency. Philosophical Psychology, 11, 353–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mele, A. (1999). Twisted self-deception. Philosophical Psychology, 12, 117–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mele, A. (2001). Self-deception unmasked. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Mele, A. (2003). Motivation and agency. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mele, A. (2012a). Backsliding: Understanding weakness of will. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mele, A. (2012b). When are we self-deceived? Humana. Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies, 20, 1–15.Google Scholar
  21. Noordhof, P. (2009). The essential instability of self-deception. Social Theory and Practice, 35, 45–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Quattrone, G., & Tversky, A. (1984). Causal versus diagnostic contingencies: On self-deception and on the voter’s illusion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 237–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sharpsteen, D., & Kirkpatrick, L. (1997). Romantic jealousy and adult romantic attachment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 627–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Talbott, W. (1995). Intentional self-deception in a single, coherent self. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 55, 27–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Talbott, W. (1997). Does self-deception involve intentional biasing? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 20, 127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Trope, Y., Gervey, B., & Liberman, N. (1997). Wishful thinking from a pragmatic hypothesis-testing perspective. In M. Myslobodsky (Ed.), The mythomanias: The nature of deception and self-deception (pp. 105–131). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  27. Trope, Y., & Liberman, A. (1996). Social hypothesis testing: Cognitive and motivational mechanisms. In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp. 239–270). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations