Non-literal lies are not exculpatory

Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

One can lie by asserting non-literal content. If I tell you “You are the cream in my coffee” while hating you, I can be rightfully accused of lying if my true emotions are unearthed. This is not easy to accommodate under many definitions of lying while also preserving the lying-misleading distinction. The essential feature of non-literal utterances is their falsity when literally construed. This interferes with accounts of lying and misleading, because such accounts often combine a literal construal of what is said by an utterance with a falsity requirement for lying. In the presence of non-literal lies such definitions struggle to make plau- sible predictions for non-literal lies and merely misleading utterances together. In this article I aim to fix this by extending Daniel Hoek’s pragmatic account of conversational exculpature to assertions in general. Since this mechanism is designed to compute the intended meanings of non-literal utterances, it straightforwardly predicts non-literal lies to be as such. The lying-misleading distinction is also preserved, because merely misleading utterances arise out of exploiting a different pragmatic mechanism—Gricean additive implicatures. Along the way I also draw some general lessons about assertion and implicatures.

Similar books and articles

What does it take to tell a lie?Emanuel Viebahn - forthcoming - In Alex Wiegmann (ed.), Lying, Fake News, and Bullshit. Bloomsbury. pp. 1-24.
Non-literal Lies.Emanuel Viebahn - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (6):1367-1380.
Lying with Conditionals.Roy Sorensen - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):820-832.
Lying and Misleading in Discourse.Andreas Stokke - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (1):83-134.
Bending and Stretching the Definition of Lying.Martina Blečić - 2020 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 20 (2):247-256.
Lying to others, lying to yourself, and literal self-deception.Vladimir Krstić - 2023 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Lying with Uninformative Speech Acts.Grzegorz Gaszczyk - 2022 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52 (7):746-760.
The Nature of the Literal/Non-literal Distinction.Martina Blečić - 2014 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 14 (3):357-375.

Analytics

Added to PP
2024-06-13

Downloads
110 (#160,983)

6 months
110 (#50,665)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Hüseyin Güngör
Princeton University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Studies in the Way of Words.Paul Grice - 1989 - Philosophy 65 (251):111-113.
Questions in Action.Daniel Hoek - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (3):113-143.
Lying with Presuppositions.Emanuel Viebahn - 2020 - Noûs 54 (3):731-751.
Belief as Question‐Sensitive.Seth Yalcin - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (1):23-47.

View all 33 references / Add more references