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Lying v. Misleading - Essay Example

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Lying v. Misleading

Philosophers have not only tried to characterize the difference between lies and misleading statements, but also have debated over the moral significance of each kind of utterance. Therefore, the two main question s are what speech act is required for lying, as opposed to being misleading; and what is the moral difference between the two acts of speech. One theory, from a linguistic point of view, according to Stokke (2), is that there are different ways of conveying information, which means, in turn, that there is a difference in the speech acts involved in both misleading and lying. When one is lying, the mode of communication is saying. This means that lying requires saying something, and being misleading is conveying information without coming right out and saying it. The example that Stokke (1) gave was a person who is looking forward to going to a party that evening after work. Another person, a co-worker, comes up and says that she doesn't want to go to the party unless person A is going. To which, person A simply says “I have to work.” But person A is actually going to be going to the party. This is misleading, because A implies that she wouldn't be going to the party by her statement. But she wasn't lying – she did have to work that day. Lying would mean that person A would come right out and say “no, I am not going to go the party tonight,” when she really is. As it was, the scenario was an example of merely misleading person B. Green (160) makes the distinction between lying and misleading by stating that lying is telling a false statement, while misleading involves stating something that is true, but is calculated to draw the inference of a lie. Stokke (348) further makes distinctions between lying and misleading, and the ethical implications of each. Someone might lie without the intent to deceive. This is because there are reasons for lying that do not have to do with deception. For instance, a person can lie on the witness stand because he fears reprisals, not that he wants to deceive everybody. This is especially true when it is clear that he did see the murder, or whatever it is that he is lying about on the witness stand. He knows that he isn't deceiving anybody, and that was never his intent. Rather, his intent was to simply secure his own safety or the safety of others who he might be protecting as well. Therefore, some philosophers have attempted to craft categories of lying where there is not an intent to deceive, such as the case above. In this definition, a lie is a lie even if there is not an attempt to deceive, as long as there is a warrant for the truth (Stokke, 349). Since one can warrant for the truth, while knowing that the statement is false, even if that person did not intend to deceive, then this would still be considered to be a lie. Therefore, there does not necessarily have to be an intent to deceive for the statement to be considered to be a lie (Stokke, 349). This would contradict the basic formula which is put in place by Stokke (348), which is that a person lies a person A makes a knowing false statement to person B, and there is also an intention to deceive person B. This somewhat complicates the ethical consequences of a lie, according to Stokke (350). this is because there is one traditional school of thought that lying is morally wrong when one intends to deceive. But, if there is not an attempt at deception, is this lie morally wrong? Stokke (350) states that it still is morally wrong, even if the person does not intend to deceive, and, in fact, deceives nobody (such as the witness to the murder, when that witness was caught on tape actually witnessing the murder. He doesn't intend to deceive ...Show more


There is a difference between lying and misleading. Lying is saying something that is untruthful. Misleading is saying something that is technically true, but is designed to create deception…
Author : mazie73
Lying v. Misleading essay example
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