Lying as a scalar phenomenon

In Sibilla Cantarini, Werner Abraham & Elizabeth Leiss (eds.), "Certainty-uncertainty – and the attitudinal space in between”,. John Benjamins Publishing (2014)
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In the philosophical debate on lying, there has generally been agreement that either the speaker believes that his statement is false, or he believes that his statement is true. This article challenges this assumption, and argues that lying is a scalar phenomenon that allows for a number of intermediate cases – the most obvious being cases of uncertainty. The first section shows that lying can involve beliefs about graded truth values (fuzzy lies) and graded beliefs (graded-belief lies). It puts forward a new definition to deal with these scalar parameters, that requires that the speaker asserts what he believes more likely to be false than true. The second section shows that statements are scalar in the same way beliefs are, and accounts for a further element of scalarity, illocutionary force.

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Neri Marsili
Universitat de Barcelona


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