•  2
    A good therapeutic relationship in mental health services is a predictor of positive clinical outcomes for people who seek help for distressing experiences, such as voice hearing and paranoia. One factor that may affect the quality of the therapeutic relationship and raises further ethical issues is the impact of the clinical encounter on users’ sense of self, and in particular on their sense of agency. In the paper, we discuss some of the reasons why the sense of epistemic agency may be especia…Read more
  •  76
    Consciousness and intentionality: Models and modalities of attribution (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (2). 2002.
    Book Information Consciousness and Intentionality: Models and Modalities of Attribution. Edited by Fisette Denis. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht. 1999. Pp. viii + 361. Hardback, US$140, £88.
  •  9
    Functions in Mind: A Theory of Intentional Content
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (3): 380-381. 2002.
    Review of the book by Carolyn Price, "Functions in Mind".
  •  14
    Delusions in the two-factor theory: pathological or adaptive?
    with Eugenia Lancellotta
    European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 16 (2): 37-57. 2020.
    In this paper we ask whether the two-factor theory of delusions is compatible with two claims, that delusions are pathological and that delusions are adaptive. We concentrate on two recent and influential models of the two-factor theory: the one proposed by Max Coltheart, Peter Menzies and John Sutton (2010) and the one developed by Ryan McKay (2012). The models converge on the nature of Factor 1 but diverge about the nature of Factor 2. The differences between the two models are reflected in di…Read more
  •  2
    Are delusions bad for you?
    Forum for European Philosophy Blog. 2016.
    Lisa Bortolotti argues that there is more to judging delusions than whether they accurately reflect the world.
  •  18
    Doctors without ‘Disorders’
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94 (1): 163-184. 2020.
    On one influential view, the problems that should attract medical attention involve a disorder, because the goals of medical practice are to prevent and treat disorders. Based on this view, if there are no mental disorders then the status of psychiatry as a medical field is challenged. In this paper, I observe that it is often difficult to establish whether the problems that attract medical attention involve a disorder, and argue that none of the notions of disorder proposed so far offers a succ…Read more
  • The Epistemic Innocence of Irrational Beliefs
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    Lisa Bortolotti argues that some irrational beliefs are epistemically innocent and deliver significant epistemic benefits that could not be easily attained otherwise. While the benefits of the irrational belief may not outweigh the costs, epistemic innocence helps to clarify the epistemic and psychological effects of irrational beliefs on agency.
  •  3
    Agency Without Rationality
    In Annalisa Coliva, Paolo Leonardi & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Eva Picardi on Language, Analysis and History, Palgrave. pp. 265-280. 2018.
    In the chapter I suggest that epistemic rationality should not be seen as a condition for intentional agency, but rather as an aspiration. Common failures of epistemic rationality in agents, such as conservatism, superstition, and prejudice, do not prevent us from interpreting and predicting those agents’ behaviour on the basis of their intentional states. In some circumstances, including confabulatory explanations and optimistically biased beliefs, instances of epistemic irrationality are instr…Read more
  •  21
    Instrumental rationality and suicide in schizophrenia: a case for rational suicide?
    with Markella Grigoriou and Rachel Upthegrove
    Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (12): 802-805. 2019.
    It is estimated that up to 7500 people develop schizophrenia each year in the UK. Schizophrenia has significant consequences, with 28% of the excess mortality in schizophrenia being attributed to suicide. Previous research suggests that suicide in schizophrenia may be more related to affective factors such as depression and hopelessness, rather than psychotic symptoms themselves. Considering suicide in schizophrenia within this framework enables us to develop a novel philosophical approach, in w…Read more
  •  68
    The two-factor theory (Davies, Coltheart, Langdon & Breen 2001; Coltheart 2007; Coltheart, Menzies & Sutton 2010) is an influential account of delusion formation. According to the theory, there are two distinct factors that are causally responsible for delusion formation. The first factor is supposed to explain the content of the delusion, while the second factor is supposed to explain why the delusion is adopted and maintained. Recently, another remarkable account of delusion formation has been…Read more
  •  181
    To what extent do self-deception and delusion overlap? In this paper we argue that both self-deception and delusions can be understood in folk-psychological terms. “Motivated” delusions, just like self-deception, can be described as beliefs driven by personal interests. If self-deception can be understood folk-psychologically because of its motivational component, so can motivated delusions. Non-motivated delusions also fit the folk-psychological notion of belief, since they can be described as …Read more
  •  36
    Conceptual challenges in the characterisation and explanation of psychiatric phenomena
    European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 6 (1): 5-10. 2010.
    b is collection focuses on conceptual issues that arise within the theoretical dimension of psychiatry. In particular, the invited contributions centre on the nature of psychiatric classification and explanation by addressing important methodological issues. Two strategies are exemplified here. Either the authors directly contribute to foundational issues in psychiatry concerning the nature of psychiatric classification and explanation; or they provide a conceptual analysis that can play a role …Read more
  •  31
    Can delusions play a protective role?
    with Rachel Gunn
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (4): 813-833. 2018.
    After briefly reviewing some of the empirical and philosophical literature suggesting that there may be an adaptive role for delusion formation, we discuss the results of a recent study consisting of in-depth interviews with people experiencing delusions. We analyse three such cases in terms of the circumstances preceding the development of the delusion; the effects of the development of the delusion on the person’s situation; and the potential protective nature of the delusional belief as seen …Read more
  •  96
    Findings from the cognitive sciences suggest that the cognitive mechanisms responsible for some memory errors are adaptive, bringing benefits to the organism. In this paper we argue that the same cognitive mechanisms also bring a suite of significant epistemic benefits, increasing the chance of an agent obtaining epistemic goods like true belief and knowledge. This result provides a significant challenge to the folk conception of memory beliefs that are false, according to which they are a sign …Read more
  •  109
    Stranger than Fiction: Costs and Benefits of Everyday Confabulation
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (2): 227-249. 2018.
    In this paper I discuss the costs and benefits of confabulation, focusing on the type of confabulation people engage in when they offer explanations for their attitudes and choices. What makes confabulation costly? In the philosophical literature confabulation is thought to undermine claims to self-knowledge. I argue that when people confabulate they do not necessarily fail at mental-state self-attributions, but offer ill-grounded explanations which often lead to the adoption of other ill-ground…Read more
  •  46
    What is unrealistic optimism?
    with Anneli Jefferson and Bojana Kuzmanovic
    Consciousness and Cognition 50 1-2. 2017.
    Introduction to a special issue on unrealistic optimism
  •  25
    Delusions and the Background of Rationality
    Mind and Language 20 (2): 189-208. 2005.
    I argue that some cases of delusions show the inadequacy of those theories of interpretation that rely on a necessary rationality constraint on belief ascription. In particular I challenge the view that irrational beliefs can be ascribed only against a general background of rationality. Subjects affected by delusions seem to be genuine believers and their behaviour can be successfully explained in intentional terms, but they do not meet those criteria that according to Davidson need to be met fo…Read more
  •  156
    Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience: Philosophical Perspectives (edited book)
    with Matthew Broome
    Oxford University Press. 2009.
    Neuroscience has long had an impact on the field of psychiatry, and over the last two decades, with the advent of cognitive neuroscience and functional neuroimaging, that influence has been most pronounced. However, many question whether psychopathology can be understood by relying on neuroscience alone, and highlight some of the perceived limits to the way in which neuroscience informs psychiatry. Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience is a philosophical analysis of the role of neuroscience in th…Read more
  •  61
    Optimism, Agency, and Success
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (3): 1-15. 2018.
    Does optimism lead to success? Friends of optimism argue that positive beliefs about ourselves and our future contribute to fitness and mental health, and are correlated with good functioning, productivity, resilience, and pro-social behaviour. Sceptics, instead, claim that when we are optimistic we fail to react constructively to negative feedback, and put ourselves at risk because we underestimate threats. Thus, it is controversial whether optimistic beliefs are conducive to success, intended …Read more
  •  237
    Fictional persuasion, transparency, and the aim of belief
    In E. Sullivan-Bissett (ed.), Art and Belief, Oxford University Press. pp. 153-73. 2017.
    In this chapter we argue that some beliefs present a problem for the truth-aim teleological account of belief, according to which it is constitutive of belief that it is aimed at truth. We draw on empirical literature which shows that subjects form beliefs about the real world when they read fictional narratives, even when those narratives are presented as fiction, and subjects are warned that the narratives may contain falsehoods. We consider Nishi Shah’s teleologist’s dilemma and a response to…Read more
  •  48
    The epistemic innocence of clinical memory distortions
    Mind and Language 33 (3): 263-279. 2018.
    In some neuropsychological disorders memory distortions seemingly fill gaps in people’s knowledge about their past, where people’s self-image, history, and prospects are often enhanced. False beliefs about the past compromise both people’s capacity to construct a reliable autobiography and their trustworthiness as communicators. However, such beliefs contribute to people’s sense of competence and self-confidence, increasing psychological wellbeing. Here we consider both psychological benefits an…Read more
  •  176
    The right not to know: the case of psychiatric disorders
    with Heather Widdows
    Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (11): 673-676. 2011.
    This paper will consider the right not to know in the context of psychiatric disorders. It will outline the arguments for and against acquiring knowledge about the results of genetic testing for conditions such as breast cancer and Huntington’s disease, and examine whether similar considerations apply to disclosing to clients the results of genetic testing for psychiatric disorders such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. The right not to know will also be examined in the context of the diagn…Read more
  •  60
    How can false or irrational beliefs be useful?
    with Ema Sullivan-Bissett
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup1): 1-3. 2017.
  •  11
    Are Alien Thoughts Beliefs?
    Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 34 (1): 134-148. 2015.
    Thought insertion is a common delusion in schizophrenia. People affected by it report that there are thoughts in their heads that have been inserted by a third party. These thoughts are self-generated but subjec-tively experienced as alien (hereafter, we shall call them alien thoughts for convenience). In chapter 5 of Transparent Minds, Jordi Fernández convincingly argues that the phenomenon of thought insertion can be accounted for as a pathology of self-knowledge. In particular, he argues that…Read more
  •  215
    Deception in psychology : Moral costs and benefits of unsought self-knowledge
    with Matteo Mameli
    Accountability in Research 13 259-275. 2006.
    Is it ethical to deceive the individuals who participate in psychological experiments for methodological reasons? We argue against an absolute ban on the use of deception in psychological research. The potential benefits of many psychological experiments involving deception consist in allowing individuals and society to gain morally significant self-knowledge that they could not otherwise gain. Research participants gain individual self-knowledge which can help them improve their autonomous deci…Read more
  •  136
    Mental illness as mental: a defence of psychological realism
    with Matthew Broome
    Humana Mente 3 (11): 25-44. 2009.
    This paper argues for psychological realism in the conception of psychiatric disorders. We review the following contemporary ways of understanding the future of psychiatry: (1) psychiatric classification cannot be successfully reduced to neurobiology, and thus psychiatric disorders should not be conceived of as biological kinds; (2) psychiatric classification can be successfully reduced to neurobiology, and thus psychiatric disorders should be conceived of as biological kinds. Position (1) can l…Read more
  •  134
    Delusion
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2009.
    Stanford Encyclopedia Entry on Delusions