Bayesian Models, Delusional Beliefs, and Epistemic Possibilities

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Abstract

The Capgras delusion is a condition in which a person believes that an imposter has replaced some close friend or relative. Recent theorists have appealed to Bayesianism to help explain both why a subject with the Capgras delusion adopts this delusional belief and why it persists despite counter-evidence. The Bayesian approach is useful for addressing these questions; however, the main proposal of this essay is that Capgras subjects also have a delusional conception of epistemic possibility, more specifically, they think more things are possible, given what is known, than non-delusional subjects do. I argue that this is a central way in which their thinking departs from ordinary cognition and that it cannot be characterized in Bayesian terms. Thus, in order to fully understand the cognitive processing involved in the Capgras delusion, we must move beyond Bayesianism.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-296
JournalThe British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Volume67
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016