Philosophy

Articles

Self-deception: A Reflexive Dilemma

T. S. Champlina1

a1 University of Hull

It is not easy to see how self-deception is possible because the man who deceives himself seems to be required to play two incompatible roles, that of deceiver and that of deceived. This makes self-deception sound about as difficult as presiding at one's own funeral. Many attempts have been made to remove the air of paradox from self-deception. These attempts are all unsuccessful, and they are best seen as expressions of philosophical puzzlement rather than as actual solutions. In particular, the whole of the literature on self-deception is vitiated by two serious confusions. First, deception is confused with deceit; secondly, it is wrongly assumed that every case of deceiving oneself is automatically a case of self-deception and so self-deception proper becomes confused with other things.