Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lies once more

I once mentioned that some philosophers of language such as Don Fallis and Roy Sorensen seek to replace the traditional philosophical conception of lying which includes an intentional deception as a criteria with an intentional violation of a Gricean norm. What prompted them to do so? It's the counter example of bald-faced lies. Bald-faced lies. One commits a bald-faced lie when when is not attempting to deceive anyone such as the case of the person on the witness stand saying "I don't know, nothin'" when everyone in the court including herself knows she knows who did it but don't want to incriminate the defendant (presumably because the defendant has threatened her). Fallis' definition of lies are as follows:

You lie to X if and only if: (BNL)

1. You state that p to X.

2. You believe that you make this statement in a context where the following

norm of conversation is in effect:

Do not make statements that you believe to be false.

3. You believe that p is false.

However, here's a counter example:

John is married to Jane and knows her well; Jane is a brilliant philosopher. One day, Jane does something that really irks John and he tells her that she is an "idiot" out of spite.

John believes that what he said is false and that the norm of conversation to not make false statements is in effect. He seems to be making a "statement" when he says, "You're an idiot". But he doesn't seem to be lying.

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