True in Word and Deed: Plato on the Impossibility of Divine Deception

Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (2):193-214 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


A common theological perspective holds that God does not deceive because lying is morally wrong. While Plato denies the possibility of divine deception in the Republic, his explanation does not appeal to the wrongness of lying. Indeed, Plato famously recommends the careful use of lies as a means of promoting justice. Given his endorsement of occasional lying, as well as his claim that humans should strive to emulate the gods, Plato's suggestion that the gods never have reason to lie is puzzling. Our solution to this puzzle centers on the fact that, unlike humans, the gods are self-sufficient. Although lying is good for the souls of neither humans nor gods, human interdependency necessitates lies that will prevent material harms and maintain a just order. In contrast, the self-sufficiency of the gods makes it impossible for them to benefit from deception.

Similar books and articles

Classical Philosophical Approaches to Lying and Deception.James Mahon - 2018 - In Jörg Meibauer (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Lying. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford Handbooks. pp. 13-31.
Lying to others, lying to yourself, and literal self-deception.Vladimir Krstić - 2023 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice. [REVIEW]James Edwin Mahon - 2011 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2011 (1).
Deception: why do people lie?Michelle R. Prather - 2018 - Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials.
The Noble Art of Lying.James Mahon - 2017 - In Alan H. Goldman (ed.), Mark Twain and Philosophy. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 95-111.
Slanted Truths: Theories of Political Deception.Kateri Mary Carmola - 1999 - Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
Telling the truth.J. Jackson - 1991 - Journal of Medical Ethics 17 (1):5-9.


Added to PP

584 (#33,695)

6 months
231 (#13,843)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Nicholas Baima
Florida Atlantic University
Tyler Paytas
Australian Catholic University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references