The Doxastic Status of Delusion and the Limits of Folk Psychology

  • José Eduardo Porcher
Part of the Studies in Brain and Mind book series (SIBM, volume 12)


Clinical delusions are widely characterized as being pathological beliefs in both the clinical literature and in common sense. Recently, a philosophical debate has emerged between defenders of the commonsense position (doxasticists) and their opponents, who have the burden of pointing toward alternative characterizations (anti-doxasticists). In this chapter, I argue that both doxasticism and anti-doxasticism fail to characterize the functional role of delusions while at the same time being unable to play a role in the explanation of these phenomena. I also argue that though a more nuanced view of belief in which mental states are more or less belief-like instills a healthy skepticism towards the precision of folk-psychological concepts, such a stance fails to be of use in building a theory of delusion that will be able to bridge different levels of explanation, such as the phenomenology and neurobiology of delusion. Thus, I advocate moving past the question ‘Are delusions beliefs?’ and their description as propositional attitudes toward the description of the processes that generate delusion, with a view toward explaining, rather than explaining away, the personal-level aspects of the phenomenon that have been made inscrutable by investing in doxastic terminology.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Eduardo Porcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculdade Jesuíta de Filosofia e TeologiaBelo HorizonteBrazil

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