Towards a Unified Definition of Delusion
Lisa Bortolotti (University of Birmingham), Lisa Bortolotti (University of Birmingham)

February 12, 2021, 9:15am - 10:45am
Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Colorado, Boulder

United States


University of Colorado, Boulder

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Abstract: In this paper I ask whether there is a definition of delusion which encompasses how the word ‘delusion’ is used in lay talk, where delusions are implausible or mistaken beliefs, and how ‘delusion’ is used in psychiatry, where delusions are symptoms of mental disorders. Using a variety of examples, I show that often talked-about features of delusions—such as being false, bizarre, or pathological—should not be regarded as defining features because they are not necessary conditions for a belief to be delusional. Next, I propose a unified notion of delusion as a belief that is irresponsive to counter-evidence and central to a person’s identity.

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