Tue Dec 6, 2016
|Graduate Research Colloquium
Self-deception in and out of Illness: Are some subjects responsible for their delusions?
In this talk I intend to ask a slightly uncomfortable question: Are some delusional subjects responsible for their delusions? This question is uncomfortable because we typically think that the answer is pretty clearly just ’no’. On the other hand, we also accept that self-deception is paradigmatically intentional behaviour for which the self-deceiver is prima facie blameworthy. And it also seems that there is significant overlap between the process of self-deception and processes leading to the formation and maintenance of delusional beliefs. Is this overlap significant enough to ground the claim that some delusional subjects are self-deceived? Does this mean they are responsible for their delusions? It is somewhat of an open question how extensive the overlap is between ordinary self-deception and delusion because philosophical debate over the correct analysis of self-deception is ongoing. So, I offer my own analysis of self-deception and ask whether it is plausible to understand the formation and/or maintenance of at least some delusions in terms of that account. I conclude that it is, but armed with some distinctions I wish to make between different kinds of responsibility (e.g. what I will call ’attributability’ vs. blameworthiness) this leads us not to the conclusion that delusional subjects should be blamed, but rather to a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which they are likely excused.