Thomas L. Carson

in Lying and Deception

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577415
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722813 | DOI:

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This chapter defines lying roughly as follows: a lie is a deliberate false statement that the speaker warrants to be true. Two features of this definition are noteworthy. First, contrary to most standard definitions, it argues that lying does not require that the liar intends to deceive others. (The chapter appeals to cases in which one is compelled or enticed to make false statements, cases of lying in which one can benefit by making false statements even if they do not deceive others, and cases of bald‐faced lies in which the liar knows that others know she is lying and therefore has no hope or intention of deceiving them.) Second, the chapter holds that in order to tell a lie, one must make a statement that one warrants to be true. According to the definition, any lie violates an implicit promise or guarantee that what one says is true. The definition makes sense of the common view that lying involves a breach of trust. To lie, on this view, is to invite others to trust and rely on what one says by warranting its truth, and at the same time to betray that trust by making a false statement that one does not believe to be true. The chapter discusses several published criticisms of the definition. The chapter isolates several criticisms that, while it is not certain, may require a refinement of the basic definition, and the chapter formulates a revised version of the definition that clearly answers them. According to the revised definition, lying requires that one intends to warrant the truth of what one says but does not require that one actually warrants its truth, as in the original definition. Nothing that is said in the book depends on the subtle difference between these two definitions.

Keywords: lying; intention to deceive; warranting truth; trust; Kant; Roy Sorensen; Don Fallis; Chisholm and Feehan

Chapter.  16736 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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