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From political self-deception to self-deception in political theory

Baderin, A. (2020) From political self-deception to self-deception in political theory. Ethics and Global Politics, 13 (4). pp. 26-37. ISSN 1654-6369

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/16544951.2020.1837483


In Political Self-Deception, Galeotti carves out valuable space for the analysis of behaviour on the part of political leaders that lies between straightforward deception and honest mistakes. In these comments I consider whether the concept of self-deception can travel from the political to the academic arena, to illuminate problems in how political theorists treat empirical data in the course of their normative work. Drawing on examples from the literature on the social bases of self-respect, I show that political theorists too are vulnerable to the motivationally biased treatment of data. I suggest that this problem can helpfully be located on the same broad terrain Galeotti outlines, between lying and mistakes. I also identify some potential analogues, for the academic sphere, of Galeotti’s proposed remedies for political SD. The paper goes on to reflect on how Galeotti herself employs empirical evidence in developing her account of self-deception. In particular, I challenge the empirical basis of her assumption that political self-deception is significantly more predictable, and therefore preventable, than political lying. My discussion seeks to show that, in addition to its intended contribution to the study of political deception, Political Self-Deception offers a valuable perspective on recent debates about the place of empirical evidence in political theory. However, approaching the book from this methodological angle reveals, in turn, some weaknesses in the empirical foundations of one of Galeotti’s own key normative claims.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:92600
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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