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Self-deception, ethics of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L090-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Self-deception is complicated and perplexing because it concerns all major aspects of human nature, including consciousness, rationality, motivation, freedom, happiness, and value commitments. In a wide sense, ‘self-deception’ refers to intentional activities and motivated processes of avoiding unpleasant truths or topics and the resulting mental states of ignorance, false belief, unwarranted attitudes, and inappropriate emotions. Deceiving oneself, like deceiving other people, raises a host of questions about immorality. These include whether self-deception is always immoral or only when it conceals and supports wrongdoing; whether self-deception about wrongdoing and character faults compounds or mitigates guilt for causing harm; how important the value of authenticity is, and whether it can be sacrificed in an attempt to cope with reality; what the relation is between self-deception and responsibility; and whether groups can be self-deceived. Ultimately, the moral status of any instance of self-deception depends on the particular facts of the case.

Citing this article:
Martin, Mike W.. Self-deception, ethics of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L090-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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