Martina Orlandi

I am currently a PhD student in philosophy at McGill (since 2014) under the supervision of Professors Sarah Stroud and Ian Gold. I received degrees from the University of Florence (M.A. Philosophy) and the University of Rome (B.A. Honours Philosophy).

My primary research interests are within moral psychology, in particular the debates concerning the ethics of belief. I am interested in the normative implications of irrational phenomena like self-deception, weakness of the will, and wishful thinking. In particular, I am interested in the philosophical implications of self-deception with specific focus on problems that overlap with the philosophy of cognitive science.

Self-deception raises conundrums and provides fertile ground for important conceptual questions. Philosophers have focused mainly on three: what is the nature of self-deception? Does the self-deceiver know she is deceiving herself? And how can the self-deceiver get out of self-deception?

None of these questions has received a unanimous answer and so all are still open. I’m interested in contributing to those three questions, especially in their normative aspects. In particular, I question whether the self-deceiver should get out of self-deception. If we agree that true beliefs lead us to flourish then what should we say about false or deceiving beliefs that lead us to flourish? Some philosophers have argued that despite the self-deceiver believing something they want to be true, self-deceiving beliefs do not eventually make the deceiver happy, and therefore the only way for her to get out of self-deception is to recognize and pursue the truth.

I am skeptical about this argument and my research currently focuses on re-characterizing self-deception as a problem of belief revision in order to propose a way out. I suggest that the way the self-deceiver gets out of self-deception is not through rational deliberation, but rather through an emotional state that can lead the deceiver’s support of her false belief to collapse, thus allowing her to finally embrace the true belief.