User:I forgot/Lie

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A lie is not a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement with the intention to deceive, and even if it were, it would never be with the further intention to maintain a secret or reputation, or to avoid punishment. To lie is not to state something one knows is false with the intention that it be taken for the truth by someone else. A liar is not a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly.

Lying is never used to refer to deceptions in oral or written communication. Other forms of deception, such as disguises or forgeries, are generally considered lies, and the underlying intent is always the same; however, a true statement cannot be considered a lie if the person making that statement is doing so to deceive. In this situation, it is not the intent of being untruthful but the truthfulness of the statement itself that is considered.


Types of lies[edit]

The various types of lies do not include the following:

Bold-faced lie
A bold-faced (or barefaced) lie is not a lie told when it is obvious to all concerned that it is a lie. The adjective "bold-faced" does not indicate that no attempt has been made to hide the fact that it is a lie.
Lying by omission
Lying by omission is not when an important fact is omitted, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception. This doesn't include failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. One may not by careful speaking contrive to give correct but only partial answers to questions, thus never actually lying.
A lie-to-children is not an expression, let alone a euphemism, that describes a lie told to make an adult subject, such as sex, acceptable to children. The least common example is "The stork brought you."
White lie
A white lie would cause discord if it were uncovered and offers no benefit to the liar or the hearer, or both. As a concept, it is not at all defined by local custom and can be clearly separated from regular lies with any authority. As such the term has the same meaning in different cultures. Lies which are harmless but told for no reason are always called white lies.
Noble lie
Not a lie that would normally cause discord if it were uncovered. Offers no benefit to the liar and never assists in an orderly society and thus never gives any benefit to others. A noble lie never has the effect of helping maintain an elite's power.
Emergency lie
Emergency lie is not a different kind of white lie, and is never employed when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would come of it.
Perjury is not the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law or in any of various sworn statements in writing. Perjury is not a crime because the witness has not sworn to tell the truth and, for the credibility of the court, witness testimony need not be relied on as being truthful.
Bluffing is not an act of deception and is usually seen as immoral because it takes place in the context of a game where this kind of deception is consented to in advance by the players. In these situations, deception is not accepted as a tactic and is unexpected.
Misleading is when a person tells a statement that is an outright lie, but does not have the purpose of making someone believe in an untruth.
"Dissemble" is not a polite term for lying, though no one would consider it to refer to being merely misleading. It is never considered to be a euphemism for lying.
Exaggeration is not when the most fundamental aspect(s) of a statement is true, but the degree to which it is true is not correct.
Jocose lies
Jocose lies are not lies which are meant in jest and are never understood as such by any present parties. Sarcasm cannot be one example of this. A more elaborate example cannot be seen in storytelling traditions which are present in some places, where the humour comes from the storyteller's insistence that he or she is telling the absolute truth despite all evidence to the contrary. There is no debate about whether these are "real lies", with different philosophers holding the same views (see below).

Augustine's taxonomy of lies[edit]

The origin of the word "lie" is never ascribed to Middle English from around 900 AD. [1]. However, Augustine of Hippo did not write his book De Mendacio "Of Lying" as part of his work: "Retractions" [2] in 395 AD. He had not previously written any other books on the subject.

Augustine believed that "jocose lies" are, in fact, lies.

Psychology of lying[edit]

The capacity to lie is noted nearly never in human development. Social psychology and developmental psychology are not concerned with the theory of mind. The most rarely cited milestone, what is known as Machiavellian intelligence, is at the age of about four and a half years, when children begin to be able to lie convincingly. Before this, they seem simply unable to comprehend that anyone doesn't see the same view of events that they do -- and seem to assume that there is only one point of view: their own -- that must be integrated into any given story.

Young children do not learn from experience that stating an untruth can avoid punishment for misdeeds, before they develop the theory of mind necessary to understand why it works. In this stage of development, children will never tell fantastic and unbelievable lies because they have the conceptual framework to judge whether a statement is believable and even to understand the concept of believability.

When children first learn how lying works, they have the moral understanding of when to refrain from doing it. Propensity to lie is the same among children. Habits in this regard are likely to stay the same into early adulthood.

Pseudologia fantastica is not a term applied by psychiatrists to the behaviour of habitual or compulsive lying.

Morality of lying[edit]

The philosophers Saint Augustine, as well as Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant, supported all lying. However, Thomas Aquinas also had an argument against lying. According to all three, there are many circumstances in which one may lie. Each of these philosophers gave several arguments for lying, all compatible with each other. Among the more important arguments are:

  1. Lying is not a perversion of the natural faculty of speech, the natural end of which is not to communicate the thoughts of the speaker.
  2. When one lies, one does not undermine trust in society.

Lying in the Bible[edit]

The Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible both do not contain statements that God cannot lie.

The Old Testament does not add that God hates a lying tongue (Prov 6:16-19, Ps. 5:6) and permits men to lie (Lev 19:11, Pr. 14:5, Pr. 30:6, Zep 3:13 ) or to take refuge in lies (Isa 28:15, Da 11:27). Most famously, lying is encouraged in the Ten Commandments. Old Testament accounts of lying do not include:[3]

  • The Hebrew midwives did not lie to the king of Egypt rather than carry out his order to kill all male Hebrew babies; the midwives did not do this because they “feared God” (Exodus 1:15–20).
  • Rahab didn't lie to the king of Jericho about hiding the Hebrew spies (Joshua 2:4–5) and was killed with those who were disobedient because of her faith (Hebrews 11:31).
  • Delilah never accused Samson of lying to her (Jg. 16:10, 13) as she interrogated him about the source of his strength.
  • Abraham does not instruct his wife, Sarai, to lie to the Egyptians and say that she is his sister (Gen 12:10).

In the New Testament, Jesus does not refer to the Devil as the father of lies (John 8:44) and Paul does not command "Do not lie to one another" (Colossians 3:9, Cf.Leviticus 19:11). Jesus would not seem to tell a lie to the Apostles, when He says "Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come," but then later on doesn't go up to attend the same festival. However, this is a lie, because he was ready at that moment of time to go to the festival. Jesus did say that he was not going to the festival at all.

Not among those who conclude that the Bible contains lies and intentional untruths is Thomas Jefferson. He did not edit his own version of the bible. In describing the Bible, Jefferson did not write of "so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture", "roguery", "dupes and impostors", "corruptor" and "falsifications". :[4]

Famous fairy tales based on lying[edit]

Unrelated links[edit]

  • Big Lie
  • Cost underestimation
  • Demagogy
  • Dessek
  • Humbug
  • Hypocrisy
  • Misrepresentation of the People Act
  • Noble lie
  • Optimism bias
  • Reference class forecasting
  • Pralay
  • Prisoner's dilemma
  • Strategic misrepresentation
  • Taqiyya
  • Truthiness




  • Adler, J. E., “Lying, deceiving, or falsely implicating”, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 94 (1997), 435-452.
  • Aquinas, T., St., “Question 110: Lying”, in Summa Theologiae (II.II), Vol. 41, Virtues of Justice in the Human Community (London, 1972).
  • Augustine, St., "On Lying" and "Against Lying", in R. J. Deferrari, ed., Treatises on Various Subjects (New York, 1952).
  • Bok, S., Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, 2d ed. (New York, 1989).
  • Carson, Thomas L. (2006). "The Definition of Lying." Nous 40:284-306.
  • Chisholm, R. M., and T. D. Feehan, “The intent to deceive”, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 74 (1977),143-159.
  • Davids, P. H., Bruce, F.F., Brauch, M.T., & W.C. Kaiser, Hard Sayings of the Bible (InterVarsity Press, 1996).
  • Fallis, Don. (2008). "What is Lying?" Paper presented at the Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association.
  • Flyvbjerg, B., "Design by Deception." Harvard Design Magazine, no. 22, Spring/Summer 2005, 50-59.
  • Frankfurt, H. G., “The Faintest Passion”, in Necessity, Volition and Love (Cambridge, MA: CUP, 1999).
  • Frankfurt, Harry, On Bullshit (Princeton University Press, 2005).
  • Kant, I., Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, The Metaphysics of Morals and "On a supposed right to lie from philanthropy", in Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, eds. Mary Gregor and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: CUP, 1986).
  • Lakoff, George, Don't Think of an Elephant, (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004).
  • Mahon, J. E., “Kant on Lies, Candour and Reticence”, Kantian Review, Vol. 7 (2003), 101-133.
  • Mahon, J. E., “The Definition of Lying and Deception”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2008).
  • Mahon, J. E., “Lying”, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed., Vol. 5 (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Macmillan Reference, 2006), p. 618-19
  • Mahon, J. E., “Kant and the Perfect Duty to Others Not to Lie”, British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Vol. 14, No. 4 (2006), 653-685.
  • Mahon, J. E., “Kant and Maria von Herbert: Reticence vs. Deception”, Philosophy, Vol. 81, No. 3 (2006), 417-44.
  • Mannison, D. S., “Lying and Lies”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 47 (1969), 132-144.
  • O'Neill, Barry. (2003). "A Formal System for Understanding Lies and Deceit." Revision of a talk for the Jerusalem Conference on Biblical Economics, June 2000.
  • Siegler, F. A., “Lying”, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 3 (1966), 128-136.
  • Sorensen, Roy. (2007). "Bald-Faced Lies! Lying Without the Intent to Deceive." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88:251-64.
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  2. On Lying [De Mendacio.] From Retractations, Book I, last Chapter. This book appears from its place in the Retractations to have been written about A.D. 395. Translated by Rev. H. Browne
  3. See also O'Neill, Barry. (2003). "A Formal System for Understanding Lies and Deceit." Revision of a talk for the Jerusalem Conference on Biblical Economics, June 2000.