Straight and Twisted Self-Deception

Anna Elisabetta Galeotti


The paper analyzes the two types of self-deception, usually labeled straight and twisted self-deception. In straight cases the self-deceptive belief coincides with the subject’s desire. In twisted cases, by contrast, the self-deceptive belief opposes the subject’s desire as in the example of Othello’s conviction of Desdemona’s infidelity. Are both these contrasting types of deceptive beliefs cases of SD? The argument of this paper shall answer this question in the positive, yet in different way from the unitary explanation of straight and twisted SD proposed by Alfred Mele. The causal account of SD claims to provide a unitary and simple explanation for both straight and twisted SD, and considers such a unitary explanation as a specific virtue of the causal view. Within the same causal model, the difference between straight and twisted self-deception is explained by a difference in the motivational state that in twisted cases is dominated by emotions. The paper will critically examine this claim, and advance an alternative explanation based on a different view of self-deception where emotions play a role alongside wishes both in straight and in twisted case.


self-deception; straight and twisted; causal account; desire and emotions

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