Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

(Self-)deception

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This looks like it should be an interesting journal issue, devoted entirely to self-deception. Unfortunately (perhaps due to timing?), it looks like none of the articles discuss von Hippel and Trivers’ recent BBS paper providing an evolutionary account of self-deception. Von Hippel and Trivers’ basic claim is that self-deception evolved to facilitate other-deception. The idea is interesting, and important for the epistemology of testimony, but as more than one commentator points out, it seems to face a basic conceptual problem — roughly, that if you believe what you say, then it isn’t a lie. While I’m inclined for other reasons to think that their theory doesn’t work, this doesn’t seem like a real problem to me, as the idea can just be restated by saying that tendencies to have certain inaccurate beliefs evolved to facilitate getting others to have inaccurate beliefs that benefit oneself (this isn’t quite the same as von Hippel and Trivers’ own response).

Whether or not the idea works, Trivers gives an interesting (and funny) talk about it here.

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Written by Kourken Michaelian

March 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

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