An analysis of the possibility of deliberate self-deception

Svece, Artis (1996) An analysis of the possibility of deliberate self-deception. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The purpose of my thesis is to analyse the possibility of deliberate self-deception. The analysis is developed in two stages. First, I provide an analysis of the term 'self-deception' and the problems that this term presents for philosophers. Second, I analyse the possibility of on particular kind of self-deception, namely, deliberately making oneself believe what one knows is false. -- Even a superficial glance over the literature on self-deception reveals the variety of interpretations of the term 'self-deception'. The differences between philosophers' interpretations of the term makes it hard to understand what can and what cannot be called 'self-deception.' In order to analyse the possibility of deliberate self-deception, I must know what self-deception is. The analysis of the term 'self-deception' turns out to be a rather painstaking enterprise, and I have to separate out the several meanings of the word. In the end of the analysis, I present two meanings of 'self-deception' in ordinary language, as well as explain the diversity of interpretations the concept has in philosophical discourse. -- When I have reached understanding of what the term 'self-deception' means in ordinary language and how it is used by different philosophers, I proceed to the analysis of the possibility of deliberate self-deception. I use the notion of deliberateness in order to distinguish between previously intended and intentional actions which are not intended beforehand. Not all intentional actions require any thinking or deciding before the action is carried out. Deliberate self-deception is an intended action of making oneself believe what one knows is false. The analysis of the possibility of deliberate self-deception is meant to demonstrate the extent to which one can control what one believes. The possibility of such control provides a basis for claiming that the self-deceivers make themselves believe what they know is false. The conclusion of my analysis is that deliberate self-deception is possible, but it is possible only in certain circumstances without which any attempt to deceive oneself fails. The basic methods for such deception are forgetting what one knows and reinterpreting evidence for one's beliefs.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5738
Item ID: 5738
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [114]-119.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: 1996
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Self-deception

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