Framing Deceptive Dynamics in Terms of Abductive Cognition

Francesco Fanti Rovetta


I propose an analysis of deception as the activity of intentionally misleading other agents’ hypothetical inferences. Understanding deception in this way has the advantages of clarifying the epistemological and cognitive dynamics involved in deception. Indeed, if deception can be framed as the intentional manipulation of others’ hypothetical inferences so that they will accept the false or disadvantageous hypotheses, then a better understanding of the epistemological and cognitive dynamics involved in deception will emerge by clarifying how abduction works. Tracing it back to Peirce’s analysis, I will focus on recent perspectives on abduction, which stress the inherent strategic character of abductive cognition and offer a realistic description of the reasoners’ capabilities and their scant resources, both internal (computational power) and external (time and information available). To support and substantiate my thesis, I will examine psychological analyses of military deception. I will conclude by remarking the advantages of the thesis here presented to better understand the epistemological dynamics of deception and by highlighting the questions it leaves open for further investigations.


abductive reasoning; hypothetical reasoning; deception; counterdeception; intelligence analysis; Peirce

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Copyright (c) 2020 Francesco Fanti Rovetta

Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097