Friday, 12 December 2014

CFP: False but Useful Beliefs for PERFECT 2016

Dear all

As part of PERFECT we want to promote further investigation into whether false beliefs can be advantageous, due to their being biologically adaptive, enhancing wellbeing, being conducive to the satisfaction of epistemic goals, or promoting some other form of agential success. In the psychological literature, self-deception, positive illusions, delusions, confabulatory explanations, and other instances of false belief have been regarded as beneficial in some sense, but there has not yet been a systematic study of their role in supporting different aspects of human agency within philosophy. 

The workshop we are planning for February 2016 aims at filling that gap. We welcome theoretical papers from researchers in epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of biology, and psychology.

Themes and research questions

Some beliefs seem to have an important role in supporting human agency: they can make us feel better about ourselves and even enhance our health prospects (e.g., positive illusions); they can provide some explanation for very unusual experiences (e.g., clinical delusions); they can protect us from undesirable truths (e.g., self-deception); they can help us fill existing gaps in our memory (e.g., confabulation); they can support a sense of community that improves socialization (e.g., religious beliefs); and so on. 

The workshop will encourage a reflection on the relationship among the different types of benefits (psychological, biological, epistemic) that such beliefs can have and on the different aims and functions of beliefs.

Here are some sample questions that contributions could address:
  • Do beliefs based on doxastic bias (e.g., instances of unrealistic optimism) or self-deceptive beliefs have biological functions not related to truth? Is there a sense in which they do not aim at truth?
  • Do religious beliefs have a positive pragmatic or epistemic role?
  • Are delusional beliefs beneficial as hypotheses for unexplained experiences?
  • Does the degree of implausibility of false beliefs affect the potentially positive roles such beliefs can play in supporting agency?
  • Do different types of self-deception (wishful, willful, twisted) have the same costs and benefits? 

Confirmed speakers
  • Duncan Pritchard (University of Edinburgh)
  • Anandi Hattiangadi (Stockholm University)
  • Neil Van Leeuwen (Georgia State University)
  • Allan Hazlett (University of Edinburgh)

Instructions, review process, and timeline

Please submit a 1500-word paper (hereafter, "short paper") sketching the main argument and including some references to its significance and implications. The paper should be submitted via EasyChair. The acronym of the CFP is PERFECT-2016. Here is the submission page. Submission opens on 10 December 2014 and closes on 10 March 2015.

Contributors will be informed by 1 April 2015 whether their short papers have been selected for presentation at the workshop. Authors of selected short papers will be invited to participate in the workshop in February 2016 and to submit a full paper (max. 10,000 words) in March 2016 for inclusion in a special issue of a journal or an edited collection on the topic of “False but Useful Beliefs”.

NO IDENTIFYING INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE SHORT PAPER SUBMISSION. Authors’ names, affiliation if applicable, and contact details will be accessed only by the programme chair who will assign reviewers but will not be personally involved in reviewing submissions. PERFECT complies with the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme and has policies and procedures in place that encourage the representation of women in philosophy. Here is some further information about the scheme.

Please note that all the travel and subsistence expenses of the workshop contributors will be paid. But presentation of the selected papers at the workshop does not guarantee that the full papers will also be published, as full papers will be subject to further, independent review, and may be rejected at that stage.

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