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Self-Deception Needs No Explaining

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How can one deceive oneself if at the same time one knows the truth? The idea of such a thing has puzzled philosophers, and many philosophical efforts have been devoted to explaining the puzzle. Yet all such attempts have been misplaced. For in fact there is nothing distinctive about the way the mind works in self-deception, nothing that needs special explaining. The perception of a puzzle arises from certain mistaken assumptions about how the mind works generally. Once this is explained, we see that the way the mind works in self-deception embodies no deviation from the norm. The aura of paradox then disappears, and we see that self-deception requires no special explanation of its own.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: University of California at Santa Barbara

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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