Monothematic Delusion: A Case of Innocence from Experience

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Empiricists about monothematic delusion formation agree that anomalous experience is a factor in the formation of these attitudes, but disagree markedly on which further factors (if any) need to be specified. I argue that epistemic innocence may be a unifying feature of monothematic delusions, insofar as a judgement of epistemic innocence to this class of attitudes is one that opposing empiricist accounts can make. The notion of epistemic innocence allows us to tell a richer story when investigating the epistemic status of monothematic delusions, one which resists the trade-off view of pragmatic benefits and epistemic costs. Though monothematic delusions are often characterised by appeal to their epistemic costs, they can play a positive epistemic role, and this is a surprising conclusion on which, so I argue, all empiricists can agree. Thus I show that all empiricists have the notion of epistemic innocence at their disposal.


Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Early online date23 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2018


  • anomalous experience, delusion, delusion formation, epistemic innocence, monothematic delusion, one-factor, prediction error, two-factor