Conference: False but Useful Beliefs

4th – 5th February, 2016, Central London.

Call for Registration.

Project PERFECT ( promotes investigation into whether false or irrational beliefs can be advantageous by being biologically adaptive, enhancing wellbeing, being conducive to the satisfaction of epistemic goals, or promoting some other form of agential success.

In the existing psychological literature, self-deception, positive illusions, delusions, confabulatory explanations, and other instances of false or irrational belief have been shown to be beneficial in one or more ways. However, in the philosophical literature there is still no systematic study of the role of false or irrational beliefs in supporting different aspects of human agency.

The aim of this workshop on False but Useful Beliefs is to encourage reflection on the relationship among the different types of benefits that false beliefs can have and on the different aims and functions of beliefs.


Thursday 4th February

09:30 Arrival and coffee

10:00 Anandi Hattiangadi: ‘Radical Interpretation and Implicit Cognition’

11:15 Coffee

11:30 Ema Sullivan-Bissett: ‘False but useful Beliefs about Epistemic Normativity’

12:20 Jesse Summers: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: Some Benefits of Rationalization’

13:05 Lunch

14:05 Lisa Bortolotti: ‘Costs and Benefits of Positive Illusions’

15:20 Coffee

15:35 Lubomira Radoilska: ‘Could False Beliefs Be Non-Accidentally Conducive to Agential Success?’

Friday 5th February

9:30 Arrival and coffee

10:00 Neil Van Leeuwen: ‘Props in the Clouds: On the Role of Agent-like Stimuli in Religious Practice’

11:15 Coffee

11:30 Patrizia Pedrini: ‘Self-deception and the “Causal Problem”’

12:20 David Kovacs: ‘False but Useful Beliefs about Ordinary Objects’

13:05 Lunch

14:05 Kate Nolfi: ‘Epistemically Faultless False Beliefs’ 

15:00 David Papineau: ‘Does Functional Falsity Refute Teleosemantics?’

16:15 Coffee

17:00 End


Standard: £30

Student/unwaged: £20

Registration includes lunch and coffee on both days. To register, please complete the online form here:

Registration closes on 1st January 2016.

Further information is available from the project website:

Inquiries should be sent to Ema Sullivan-Bissett: e.l.sullivan-bissett[at]


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