Classical Philosophical Approaches to Lying and Deception

In Jörg Meibauer (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Lying. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford Handbooks. pp. 13-31 (2018)
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This chapter examines the views of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle on lying. It it outlines the differences between different kinds of falsehoods in Plato (real falsehoods and falsehoods in words), the difference between myths and lies, the 'noble' (i.e., pedigree) lie in The Republic, and how Plato defended rulers lying to non-rulers about, for example, eugenics. It considers whether Socrates's opposition to lying is consistent with Socratic irony, and especially with his praise of his interlocutors as wise. Finally, it looks at Aristotle's condemnation of lies, and asks whether lies to enemies, and self-deprecating lies by the magnanimous person, are not base.

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James Mahon
Lehman College (CUNY)


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