Responsibility and Self-Deception: A Framework

  • Dana Kay Nelkin University of California, San Diego, USA
Keywords: self-deception, moral responsibility, motivationist account


This paper focuses on the question of whether and, if so, when people can be responsible for their self-deception and its consequences. On Intentionalist accounts, self-deceivers intentionally deceive themselves, and it is easy to see how they can be responsible. On Motivationist accounts, in contrast, self-deception is a motivated, but not intentional, and possibly unconscious process, making it more difficult to see how self-deceivers could be responsible. I argue that a particular Motivationist account, the Desire to Believe account, together with other resources, best explains how there can be culpable self-deception. In the process, I also show how self-deception is a good test case for deciding important questions about the nature of moral responsibility.

How to Cite
Nelkin, D. (2012). Responsibility and Self-Deception: A Framework. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 5(20), 117-139. Retrieved from