Self-deception and moral responsibility

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The self-deceived are usually held to be moral responsible for their state. I argue that this attribution of responsibility makes sense only against the background of the traditional conception of self-deception, a conception that is now widely rejected. In its place, a new conception of self-deception has been articulated, which requires neither intentional action by self-deceived agents, nor that they posses contradictory beliefs. This new conception has neither need nor place for attributions of moral responsibility to the self-deceived in paradigmatic cases. Accordingly, we should take the final step toward abandoning the traditional conception, and drop the automatic attribution of responsibility. Self-deception is simply a kind of mistake, and has no more necessary connection to culpability than have other intellectual errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-311
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


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