Sunday 13 October 2013

The Rise of Delusions in Philosophy

Recently I had the pleasure to update the Delusion entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I wrote the original version of it in 2009 and so much has happened in four years that I had to select topics or the entry would have become far too long.

It seemed to me there were several areas to revise and expand, and some entirely new debates to discuss. The most obvious sections to revise were: the one on the definition of delusion (given the subtle shifts in DSM-5 we previously reported in this blog); the one on whether the formation and maintenance of delusion can be regarded as rational (given the recent debate on Bayesianism initiated by the 2010 paper by Coltheart, Menzies and Sutton), the one on delusion formation theories, as in the original version too little space was dedicated to the prediction error theory defended by Jakob Hohwy and Phil Corlett among others; and the one on whether delusions are beliefs, considering the recent proposal by Schwitzgebel that delusions are neither beliefs nor non-beliefs, but in-between states, and the papers by Reimer, Graham and Bayne in this issue of Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology.

Among the new debates, there has been an interesting discussion about the overlap between delusion and confabulation. A special issue of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry was dedicated to this topic in January 2010 and there is now a book collecting the relevant papers. In addition, a number of articles by philosophers and psychologists have focused on how to best understand thought insertion, including a paper by Martin and Pacherie, a paper by Broome and myself, a paper by Fernandez (whose main idea is summarised in this blog post), and a paper by Sollberger. Unfortunately, I could not cover such new debates, even if they are both very close to my heart, but I am hoping that the attention they have received will continue so that independent entries may be proposed within the Encyclopedia in the near future.

New books on delusions have been published and are about to be published too. Soon after my delusions book (see the symposium on it in Neuroethics in 2012), Jennifer Radden published a book entitled On Delusion with Routledge in 2010, to which a special issue of Mind & Language was dedicated recently. Phil Gerrans will publish a book on the topic next year, Measure of Madness, and we got a preview here. Jakob Hohwy's forthcoming The Predictive Mind will surely deal with delusions too.

From my point of view, this rise of delusions in philosophy is a treat! I hope you enjoy reading the updated entry in the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy and continue to follow this blog for more updates. (And if I have omitted some interesting developments in the literature, please leave a comment and share.)

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