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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 22, Issue 2, Fall 2008

James Edwin Mahon
Pages 211-230

Two Definitions of Lying

This article first examines a number of different definitions of lying, from Aldert Vrij, Warren Shibles, Sissela Bok, the Oxford English Dictionary, Linda Coleman and Paul Kay, and Joseph Kupfer. It considers objections to all of them, and then defends Kupfer’s definition, as well as a modified version of his definition, as the best of those so far considered. Next, it examines five other definitions of lying, from Harry G. Frankfurt, Roderick M. Chisholm and Thomas D. Feehan, David Simpson, Thomas Carson, and Don Fallis. It finds reason to reject these definitions, in favor of the two definitions of lying previously defended, namely: (i) To lie (to another person) = df. to make a believed-false statement (to another person) with the intention that that statement be believed to be true (by the other person). (ii) To lie (to another person) = df. to make a believed-false statement (to another person), either with the intention that that statement be believed to be true (by the other person), or with the intention that it be believed (by the other person) that that statement is believed to be true (by the person making the statement), or with both intentions.

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