Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Facultad de Filosofía y Letras

Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas

Posgrado en Filosofía


Fooling ourselves:

Ways of manipulating own attitudes

(Minicurso No Curricular)


Christoph Michel

Institut für Philosophie, Universität Stuttgart


Septiembre 3-26 de 2013

Martes y Jueves, 16:00 a 18:00 horas

Aula 5, 2o piso, IIFs-UNAM



     So-called “self-deception” is considered to be a paradigm case of irrationality and appears as a rather widespread trait of human behavior. This short six-session seminar introduces, compares and discusses influential accounts of the phenomenon from mainly the contemporary analytic literature. The seminar aims to achieve a basic understanding of the problems which are raised by the phenomenon of self-deception and makes an attempt towards a clarification of which epistemically irrational states of groups might qualify as collective self-deception.


     The larger part of the course is dedicated to the aim of getting a grip on the problems and questions around self-deception in the classical individual case. After a general introductory session we discuss the classical challenges or “paradoxes” that originate from the intuitive idea of intentional self-deception. In this context we look at Donald Davidson's partitioning account, which tries to come to terms with intentional self-deception within a rationalist account of attitudes. In sessions three and four, we will take a look at two fundamentally opposing basic strategies to explain individual self-deception “paradox free” which draw on rather well-established related phenomena familiar from cognitive psychology. While Kent Bach and Tamar Szabo Gendler think that typically self-deceivers actually do know the truth, Alfred Mele in contrast holds that examples of self-deception are best explained as a species of motivationally biased belief-formation. Finally, the last two sessions shall address the social dimension of belief-formation. Hilary Kornblith's skepticism about the role of reasoning in belief-formation draws on the familiar phenomenon of rationalization and sets out how structures of groups systematically impact our acceptance of attitudes. The evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers regards self-deception as an omnipresent biologically and socially selected trait and provides challenging analyses of failed group action on the basis of his account of self-deception. For an introductory reading attendants are encouraged to read the Stanford Encyclopedia article on self-deception by Deweese-Boyd. The course will be taught in English.


     The course will take place all through the month of September including the frist two and the fourth week of September, with the exception of the third week, when professor Michel will deliver a talk at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas.



1 Introduction

Fooling oneself: Self-deception in individuals and groups (September 3rd)


2 Intentional Self-deception

Deception and Division (Donald Davidson, 1985) In: Problems of Rationality.Oxford, Clarendon Press. (September 5th)


3 Deflation I

An Analysis of Self-Deception (Kent Bach, 1981) Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 41, 351370.

Self-Deception as Pretense (Tamar Szabo Gendler, 2007) Philosophical

Perspectives, 21, 231258. (September 10th)


4 Deflation II (09/12)

Real Self-Deception (Alfred Mele, 1997) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 20, 91102.26.06. (September 12th; 1 week off)


5 Social dimension I

Distrusting Reason (Hilary Kornblith, 1999) Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XXIII, 181-196. (September 24th)


6 Social dimension II

The Elements of a Scientific Theory of Self-Deception. (Robert Trivers, 2000) Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 907, 114-131. (September 26th)



Entrada libre

El curso será en inglés y no habrá traducción simultánea

Se dará constancia con el 85% de asistencia

Dirigido a estudiantes de posgrado

Informes en la Secretaría Académica del IIFs, al 5622 7242, correo electrónico

IIFs: Circuito Mario de la Cueva,

Ciudad de la Investigación en Humanidades,

Ciudad Universitaria, 04510, México DF


Actualizado Sep 03 de 2013
    Abr 16 de 2024
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