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Princeton Monographs in Philosophy

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Princeton Monographs in Philosophy

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Self-Deception Unmasked

Alfred R. Mele

Self-deception raises complex questions about the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. In this book, Alfred Mele addresses four of the most critical of these questions: What is it to deceive oneself? How do we deceive ourselves? Why do we deceive ourselves? Is self-deception really possible?

Drawing on cutting-edge empirical research on everyday reasoning and biases, Mele takes issue with commonplace attempts to equate the processes of self-deception with those of stereotypical interpersonal deception. Such attempts, he demonstrates, are fundamentally misguided, particularly in the assumption that self-deception is intentional. In their place, Mele proposes a compelling, empirically informed account of the motivational causes of biased beliefs. At the heart of this theory is an appreciation of how emotion and motivation may, without our knowing it, bias our assessment of evidence for beliefs. Highlighting motivation and emotion, Mele develops a pair of approaches for explaining the two forms of self-deception: the "straight" form, in which we believe what we want to be true, and the "twisted" form, in which we believe what we wish to be false.

Underlying Mele's work is an abiding interest in understanding and explaining the behavior of real human beings. The result is a comprehensive, elegant, empirically grounded theory of everyday self-deception that should engage philosophers and social scientists alike.

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Social Conventions

From Language to Law

Andrei Marmor

Social conventions are those arbitrary rules and norms governing the countless behaviors all of us engage in every day without necessarily thinking about them, from shaking hands when greeting someone to driving on the right side of the road. In this book, Andrei Marmor offers a pathbreaking and comprehensive philosophical analysis of conventions and the roles they play in social life and practical reason, and in doing so challenges the dominant view of social conventions first laid out by David Lewis.

Marmor begins by giving a general account of the nature of conventions, explaining the differences between coordinative and constitutive conventions and between deep and surface conventions. He then applies this analysis to explain how conventions work in language, morality, and law. Marmor clearly demonstrates that many important semantic and pragmatic aspects of language assumed by many theorists to be conventional are in fact not, and that the role of conventions in the moral domain is surprisingly complex, playing mostly an auxiliary and supportive role. Importantly, he casts new light on the conventional foundations of law, arguing that the distinction between deep and surface conventions can be used to answer the prevalent objections to legal conventionalism.

Social Conventions is a much-needed reappraisal of the nature of the rules that regulate virtually every aspect of human conduct.

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Taking Wittgenstein at His Word

A Textual Study

Robert J. Fogelin

Taking Wittgenstein at His Word is an experiment in reading organized around a central question: What kind of interpretation of Wittgenstein's later philosophy emerges if we adhere strictly to his claims that he is not in the business of presenting and defending philosophical theses and that his only aim is to expose persistent conceptual misunderstandings that lead to deep philosophical perplexities? Robert Fogelin draws out the therapeutic aspects of Wittgenstein's later work by closely examining his account of rule-following and how he applies the idea in the philosophy of mathematics.

The first of the book's two parts focuses on rule-following, Wittgenstein's "paradox of interpretation," and his naturalistic response to this paradox, all of which are persistent and crucial features of his later philosophy. Fogelin offers a corrective to the frequent misunderstanding that the paradox of interpretation is a paradox about meaning, and he emphasizes the importance of Wittgenstein's often undervalued appeals to natural responses. The second half of the book examines how Wittgenstein applies his reflections on rule-following to the status of mathematical propositions, proofs, and objects, leading to remarkable, demystifying results.

Taking Wittgenstein at His Word shows that what Wittgenstein claims to be doing and what he actually does are much closer than is often recognized. In doing so, the book underscores fundamental--but frequently underappreciated--insights about Wittgenstein's later philosophy.

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Thinking of Others

On the Talent for Metaphor

Ted Cohen

In Thinking of Others, Ted Cohen argues that the ability to imagine oneself as another person is an indispensable human capacity--as essential to moral awareness as it is to literary appreciation--and that this talent for identification is the same as the talent for metaphor. To be able to see oneself as someone else, whether the someone else is a real person or a fictional character, is to exercise the ability to deal with metaphor and other figurative language. The underlying faculty, Cohen argues, is the same--simply the ability to think of one thing as another when it plainly is not.

In an engaging style, Cohen explores this idea by examining various occasions for identifying with others, including reading fiction, enjoying sports, making moral arguments, estimating one's future self, and imagining how one appears to others. Using many literary examples, Cohen argues that we can engage with fictional characters just as intensely as we do with real people, and he looks at some of the ways literature itself takes up the question of interpersonal identification and understanding.

An original meditation on the necessity of imagination to moral and aesthetic life, Thinking of Others is an important contribution to philosophy and literary theory.

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Welfare and Rational Care

Stephen Darwall

What kind of life best ensures human welfare? Since the ancient Greeks, this question has been as central to ethical philosophy as to ordinary reflection. But what exactly is welfare? This question has suffered from relative neglect. And, as Stephen Darwall shows, it has done so at a price. Presenting a provocative new "rational care theory of welfare," Darwall proves that a proper understanding of welfare fundamentally changes how we think about what is best for people.

Most philosophers have assumed that a person's welfare is what is good from her point of view, namely, what she has a distinctive reason to pursue. In the now standard terminology, welfare is assumed to have an "agent-relative normativity." Darwall by contrast argues that someone's good is what one should want for that person insofar as one cares for her. Welfare, in other words, is normative, but not peculiarly for the person whose welfare is at stake. In addition, Darwall makes the radical proposal that something's contributing to someone's welfare is the same thing as its being something one ought to want for her own sake, insofar as one cares. Darwall defends this theory with clarity, precision, and elegance, and with a subtle understanding of the place of sympathetic concern in the rich psychology of sympathy and empathy. His forceful arguments will change how we understand a concept central to ethics and our understanding of human bonds and human choices.

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When Is True Belief Knowledge?

Richard Foley

A woman glances at a broken clock and comes to believe it is a quarter past seven. Yet, despite the broken clock, it really does happen to be a quarter past seven. Her belief is true, but it isn't knowledge. This is a classic illustration of a central problem in epistemology: determining what knowledge requires in addition to true belief.

In this provocative book, Richard Foley finds a new solution to the problem in the observation that whenever someone has a true belief but not knowledge, there is some significant aspect of the situation about which she lacks true beliefs--something important that she doesn't quite "get." This may seem a modest point but, as Foley shows, it has the potential to reorient the theory of knowledge. Whether a true belief counts as knowledge depends on the importance of the information one does or doesn't have. This means that questions of knowledge cannot be separated from questions about human concerns and values. It also means that, contrary to what is often thought, there is no privileged way of coming to know. Knowledge is a mutt. Proper pedigree is not required. What matters is that one doesn't lack important nearby information.

Challenging some of the central assumptions of contemporary epistemology, this is an original and important account of knowledge.

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