Given the definitions of lying and self-deception, it would be wrong to understand self-deception as lying to oneself. It seems, however, that any definition of self-deception gives rise to two paradoxes. According to the ‘static paradox’, self-deception involves believing ‘p and not-p’ at the same time. According to the ‘dynamic paradox’, self-deception involves the intention to deceive oneself. If both claims were true, self-deception would seem to be impossible. ‘Divisionists’ try to solve the first paradox by arguing that the human mind is divided into several subsystems such that the self-deceiver consciously believes that p while unconsciously believing that not-p. ‘Non-intentionalists’ try to solve the second paradox by arguing that self-deception is based on a ‘motivational bias’. Since both explanations fall short of accounting for the blameworthiness of self-deception, a third approach examines the phenomenon from the perspective of virtue theory, claiming that self-deceivers have not yet succeeded in developing the virtue of accuracy.
Knowledge, it is commonly assumed, can be and often is transmitted via testimony. How exactly this takes place, however, is a matter of controversy. One common thought is that, in order to obtain knowledge via testimony, listeners need to live up to some minimum standard of epistemic conduct. This raises the question of just what this minimum standard might be. Some philosophers have recently attempted to make progress on this question by turning to the psychological literature on mechanisms of ‘epistemic vigilance’, or the methods that people routinely use to track the quality of the testimony they are hearing, to filter out liars and the uninformed. The present chapter briefly canvasses the state of this inquiry and lays out several challenges for it. It concludes with a broader challenge to the thought that there really is some minimal standard that listeners must live up to in order to acquire knowledge via testimony.
Lewis Bott and Emma Williams
Lying involves producing an utterance, just like telling the truth, but there are differences between how people produce a lie and how they produce a truth. Here we discuss those differences from a psycholinguistic perspective. We start by introducing a psycholinguistic model of language production. We then discuss the evidence that the production process is altered when people lie, and identify areas that have not yet been tested but hold promise. The topics we discuss include the suppression process, lie construction, perspective taking, and how lying taps central resources. We conclude by highlighting the benefits to deception researchers of understanding the truthful production process and the benefits to psycholinguists of understanding how people lie.