How the truth can make a great lie: An empirical investigation of the folk concept of lying by falsely implicating


Is it possible to lie despite not saying something false? While the spontaneous answer seems to be ‘no’, there is some evidence from ordinary language that a lie does not require what is said to be false. In this paper, we will argue for a pragmatic extension of the standard definition of lying. More specifically, we will present three experiments which show that people’s concept of lying is not about the falsity of what is said, but about what is implied by saying it that way. We test the four Gricean conversational maxims. For each one of them we demonstrate that if a speaker implies something misleading, even by saying something semantically true, it is still considered lying.

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