The role of pretense in the process of self-deception



Wei X (2020) The role of pretense in the process of self-deception. Philosophical Explorations, 23 (1), pp. 1-14.

Gendler [2007. “Self-deception as Pretense.” Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1): 231–258] offers an account of self-deception in terms of imaginative pretense, according to which the self-deceptive state is a pretense rather than a doxastic attitude. The self-deceived agent who deceives herself about p merely pretends that p is true. In this paper, I aim, first, to show why Gendler’s pretense view requires revision, and second, to offer an alternative account of pretense’s role in self-deception which draws on Gendler’s insight but avoids her problematic anti-doxastic conclusion. I highlight how this view may help to further our doxastic understanding of self-deception. Self-deception should be understood as a diachronic and dynamic process. It often starts with pretense, though it always ends with an inappropriate doxastic attitude, provided that the agent succeeds in deceiving herself. Finally, I discuss some implications of this view in the wider debates concerning the nature of self-knowledge and the ethics of pretense.

self-deception; pretense; belief; social self-deception; self-knowledge; privileged access

Philosophical Explorations: Volume 23, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online12/01/2020
Date accepted by journal10/12/2019