Self-deception poses longstanding and fascinating paradoxes. Philosophers have questioned whether, and how, self-deception is even possible; evolutionary theorists have debated whether it is adaptive. For Sigmund Freud self-deception was a fundamental key to understanding the unconscious, and from The Bible to The Great Gatsby literature abounds with characters renowned for their self-deception. But what exactly is self-deception? Why is it so puzzling? How is it performed? And is it harmful?
In this thorough and clearly written introduction to the philosophy and psychology of self-deception, Eric Funkhouser examines and assesses these questions and more:
- Clarification of the conceptual background and "Basic problem" of self-deception, including Freud and Davidson and the important debate between intentionalists and motivationalists
- Deflationary accounts that appeal to cognitive and motivational biases, with emphasis on how motives and emotions drive self-deception
- Intentional self-deception and the "divided mind," including the role of the unconscious in recent psychological research
- Challenges that self-deception poses for philosophy of mind and psychology, especially for our understanding of intention, belief, and deception
- Biology and moral psychology of self-deception: Is self-deception functional or beneficial? Are the self-deceived to be held accountable?
Combining philosophical analysis with the latest psychological research, and including features such as chapter summaries, annotated recommended reading and a glossary, Self-Deception is an excellent resource for students of philosophy of mind and psychology, moral psychology and ethics, as well as those in related fields such as psychology and cognitive science.