Reply to Roy Sorensen, 'Knowledge-lies'

Analysis 71 (2):300-302 (2011)

Authors
Julia Staffel
University of Colorado, Boulder
Abstract
Sorensen offers the following definition of a ‘knowledge-lie’: ‘An assertion that p is a knowledge-lie exactly if intended to prevent the addressee from knowing that p is untrue but is not intended to deceive the addressee into believing p.’ According to Sorensen, knowledge-lies are not meant to deceive their addressee, and this fact is supposed to make them less bad than ordinary lies. I will argue that standard cases of knowledge-lies, including almost all the cases Sorensen considers, do in fact involve deception, contrary to what Sorensen claims. And while there are cases of non-deceptive knowledge-lies, such cases are deviant, either because it is only incidental that the knowledge-preventing assertion is a lie, or because it is only incidental that the lie doesn't deceive. Here's an example of a knowledge-lie: Dr Head is considering firing Dr Appendix because of his weak research. But he doesn't want to fire Appendix unless he knows that Appendix's research isn't good, and so he consults Dr Heart. Head knows that if Appendix's research is good, then Heart will tell the truth and say so, whereas if Appendix's work isn't good, then Heart may or may not …
Keywords deception  lying  knowledge  degrees of belief
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anr021
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge-Lies.R. Sorensen - 2010 - Analysis 70 (4):608-615.

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Citations of this work BETA

Lies and Deception: An Unhappy Divorce.J. Lackey - 2013 - Analysis 73 (2):236-248.
Lying, Risk and Accuracy.Sam Fox Krauss - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):726-734.
Can You Lie Without Intending to Deceive?Vladimir Krstić - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (2):642–660.
Lying as a Scalar Phenomenon.Neri Marsili - 2014 - In Sibilla Cantarini, Werner Abraham & Elizabeth Leiss (eds.), "Certainty-uncertainty – and the attitudinal space in between”,. John Benjamins Publishing.

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