Delusional predictions and explanations

Matthew Parrott

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In both cognitive science and philosophy, many theorists have recently appealed to a predictive processing framework to offer explanations of why certain individuals form delusional beliefs. One aim of this essay will be to illustrate how one could plausibly develop a predictive processing account in different ways to account for the onset of different kinds of delusions. However, the second aim of this essay will be to discuss two significant limitations of the predictive processing framework. First, I shall draw on the structure of explanatory why-questions to argue that predictive processing theories can only partially explain the formation of delusional beliefs. Second, I shall argue that predictive processing theories cannot explain how implausible delusional hypotheses are generated. Yet understanding why an agent even generates a delusional hypothesis is a crucial step to understanding why she eventually comes to believe it. The final section of the essay presents three alternative ways the process of hypothesis generation might be functionally divergent in cases of delusional cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberaxz003
JournalThe British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2019


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