Delusions: A two-level framework

Frankish Keith

in Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238033
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754562 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Delusions: A two-level framework

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There is continuing debate about the nature of delusions and whether they are properly described as beliefs. This chapter argues that in order to make progress on this issue, we need to adopt a more complex taxonomy of psychological states and processes, building on recent work in philosophy of psychology and cognitive science. I distinguish two levels of belief, and argue that delusions, if they are beliefs at all, belong to the second of them. I go on to offer an account of second-level belief according to which it is a species of a broader mental type, sometimes called ‘acceptance’, which is dependent on attitudes at the first level. I then propose that delusions are acceptances, some of which fall within, and some without, the narrower class of second-level beliefs. I argue that this view explains our competing intuitions about delusions and that it has important implications for understanding deluded patients.

Chapter.  8477 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry ; Clinical Neuroscience

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