Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Reviewing the logic of self-deception

Ellen Fridlanda1

Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University of Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany. ellenfridland@yahoo.com http://sites.google.com/site/ellenfridland/

Abstract

I argue that framing the issue of motivated belief formation and its subsequent social gains in the language of self-deception raises logical difficulties. Two such difficulties are that (1) in trying to provide an evolutionary motive for viewing self-deception as a mechanism to facilitate other-deception, the ease and ubiquity of self-deception are undermined, and (2) because after one has successfully deceived oneself, what one communicates to others, though untrue, is not deceptive, we cannot say that self-deception evolved in order to facilitate the deception of others.

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