SELF-DECEPTION: A THEORY WITH EMPIRICAL COMPONENTS LINKED TO THE BRAIN
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractI contend that all theories of self-deception (SD) which operate on a belief/knowledge account are mistaken and that Fingarette is correct in basing SD on a volition/action account. Fingarette's account, however, is also mistaken in its failure to understand the sometimes crucial role of motive and the always crucial role of acceptance of responsibility. My theory of SD claims that it occurs due to lack of communication between two extremely different sets of structures in the brain. These have evolved for entirely different purposes, and are called the affective and cognitive brains, respectively. This theory demonstrates why the action/volition account is correct. When the cognitive brain judges some idea to be a threat to one of the various self-concepts, the affective brain is alerted to attempt to protect the system of the self by escape of any viable sort. The theory gains strength by its ability to shed light on other psychological phenomena, e.g., false confession and inexplicably docile behavior greatly disadvantageous to those doing it. In addition, my theory undermines all of the so-called paradoxes of SD, partially by showing that the "deception" in SD does not point toward objective truth and a purposeful even if conscious failure to see it, but rather toward the perceived consistency, or lack of it, of one's self-concept. Specifically, drawing on general examples of SD taken from literature, film, and various psychological experiments, I criticize in great detail the accounts of SD given by Fingarette, Rorty, Szabados, and Saunders. In less detail, I criticize the accounts of Freud, Sartre, and Kierkegaard.
Degree ProgramGraduate College