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Delusions are often regarded as irrational beliefs, but their irrationality is not sufficient to explain what is pathological about them. In this paper we ask whether deluded subjects have the capacity to support the content of their delusions with reasons, that is, whether they can author their delusional states. The hypothesis that delusions are characterised by a failure of authorship, which is a dimension of self knowledge, deserves to be empirically tested because (a) it has the potential to account for the distinction between endorsing a delusion and endorsing a framework belief; (b) it contributes to a philosophical analysis of the relationship between rationality and self knowledge; and (c) it informs diagnosis and therapy in clinical psychiatry. However, authorship cannot provide a demarcation criterion between delusions and other irrational belief states.

Original publication




Journal article


Philosophical Psychology

Publication Date





821 - 841