Political Bald-Faced Lies are Performative Utterances

In Adam Podlaskowski & Drew Johnson (eds.), Truth 20/20. Synthese Library (forthcoming)
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Sometimes, political bald-faced lies pass for truth. That is, certain groups of people behave according to them – behave as if the political bald-faced lies were true. How can this phenomenon be explained? I argue that to explain it we need to take political bald-faced lies to be performative utterances whose goal is to bring about a worldly state of affairs just in virtue of making the utterance. When the former US-President tweeted ‘we won the election’, people stormed Capitol Hill to protest election fraud and some were killed. In this way, the bald-faced lie was successful in passing for truth. My performative view of political bald-faced lies is to be preferred over various other views such as the contempt for truth view (Lynch 2021), the deception view (Lackey 2013), and the value-signaling view (Stanley 2012). These alternative views fail to adequately account for how political bald-faced lies pass for truth.

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Susanna Melkonian-Altshuler
University of Connecticut


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