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date: 30 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

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.

Keywords: accuracy, biased belief, dynamic paradox, intentionality condition, knowledge condition, lying to oneself, partitioning, self-deception, static paradox, virtue

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