What is political about political self-deception?

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In Political Self-Deception, Galeotti considers (and rebuts) two ‘realist’ objections. Galeotti’s realist argues that there is no need for the overly complex concept of self-deception, since self-serving lies and manipulation are descriptively and normatively sufficient; and that in any case, deception in democratic politics is sometimes justifiable. In response, Galeotti offers explanatory, moral, and normative reasons why self-deception is a helpful concept in international politics: it helps us better understand the political reality of deception, and guides us in how to avoid or mitigate it. In this comment, I wish to revisit the realist objections, and to provide a more nuanced and more robust version of them. In doing so, I raise questions about the relationship between self-deception and the failure of political judgement, about the moral evaluation of deception in democratic politics, and about the normative implications of Galeotti’s analysis for political responsibility and for prophylactic measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-47
Number of pages10
JournalEthics and Global Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Foreign policy
  • political judgement
  • realism
  • self-deception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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