Belief, quasi-belief, and obsessive-compulsive disorder

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) poses a puzzle about beliefs: Those with OCD experience anxiety and motivation suggesting that they believe something, even though they may profess not to believe that very thing. OCD also poses a puzzle about free will, since persons with OCD often describe their behavior as compelled, though it is unclear how it is compelled. This paper argues that at least some cases of OCD are best described as being driven by “quasi-beliefs” which have some, but not all, of the functional properties of beliefs. (A brief discussion contrasts these quasi-beliefs with the “aliefs” recently posited by Tamar Gendler.) An alternative to the quasi-belief account of OCD is the claim is that OCD can be explained in terms of ordinary beliefs that simply have irrational contents. The paper argues that the quasi-belief account of OCD fits the empirical details of the disorder better than alternative accounts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-668
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 3 2016


  • Alief
  • Autonomy
  • Belief
  • Freedom
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Quasi-Belief


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