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Posted: 10 February 2009 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Chris Crawford - 10 February 2009 02:44 PM

Doug, my point regarding teaching is that the definition being offered previously yields absurd results. Teaching is not lying, but it is, in the strictest sense, a set of statements known by the speaker to be untrue. That’s why I claim that our definition of lying needs to be more complicated.

Well, OK, but I think the real problem is some elision here of a couple of concepts of lying. The simplest one (the lie?) is that a lie is a statement made that is known to be untrue. That’s fine as far as it goes, but as you note, we may not be precisely lying when saying things we know to be false—namely, when we say things that may be strictly false but are approximately true, when done in a context where that approximation is good enough to get the job done.

E.g., you don’t need to know QM to throw a ball into a bucket, and anyone who tells you you do is lying to you. wink

Re. the case of stagecraft, perhaps we could amend the concept to something like:

(1) X tells a lie iff X sincerely makes a statement he knows to be untrue.

(Where to make a statement sincerely is to make it in a context where it is taken as purportedly true; e.g., not on a stage).

I seem to remember that Harry Frankfurt gave a definition of lying in one of his small books, the ones that truthaddict mentioned. They are absolutely brilliant. If he did so, I’m sure it’s better than the one I just gave.

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Posted: 10 February 2009 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Occam - 09 February 2009 12:55 PM

While I enjoy a good joke, and even a clever lie, the idea of responding to a wrong number as mentioned above is just plain nasty.  It’s certainly not within the principles of humanism.  Any of us can hit the wrong key by error.  When someone calls, and it’s obvious that they misdialed, I ask, “What number were you trying to reach?”  When it’s given, I say, as applicable, “You pressed the wrong button on the fourth digit.”  No one deserves to be given misinformation unless you are certain that it won’t cause unexpected harm.

Occam

The reply of a “straight John” Occam, as Elmore Leonard might comment, or of a maiden Aunt/ Sunday school teacher. Inhuman and moralizing.

If I turn being inconvenienced into a moment’s humour, scarce as they be, he may dial more carefully next time. “Fools die”, said Mario Puzo and “Patience my ass!” said the vulture “I’m gonna kill something.” Those are my boys, God bless ‘em..

I have no sympathy for sloppy dialers or telemarketers, they fracture too much of my privacy and deserve my small revenge. As William Blake said “To be an error and to be cast out is a part of God’s design”.

If you think about it, accommodating a fool is a lie.

There, now I feel better.

[ Edited: 10 February 2009 03:32 PM by Martinus ]
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Posted: 10 February 2009 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Chris Crawford - 10 February 2009 02:41 PM

Dezrah, I think that your approach is entirely too simplistic. When William Shatner says, “I’m James T. Kirk”, there isn’t a person watching who doesn’t know that he really is just acting. The audience is in on the false statement—so how can it be a lie? Similarly, when the magician says, “I’m holding a quarter in my right hand”, there isn’t anybody in the audience who takes that statement at face value. They KNOW that there’s something afoot. If they didn’t know it, at some point some rube would jump and say “That ain’t no quarter in yer hand!” and everybody would burst out laughing at his naivete.

And when someone is lying and you are “in on the false statement” does that NOT make it a lie? For example, a friend tells his wife he is going out for drinks with some friends but you “are in on” knowing that he is, in fact, seeing another woman.

And even if you are not “in on it” and you still know it is a “false statement” does that NOT make it a lie? For example, your wife tells you she is not upset but you know this to be false.

Granted there are various forms of deception, but I think it was clearly the point Dezrah was trying to make.

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Posted: 10 February 2009 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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dougsmith - 10 February 2009 02:55 PM

Re. the case of stagecraft, perhaps we could amend the concept to something like:

(1) X tells a lie iff X sincerely makes a statement he knows to be untrue.

(Where to make a statement sincerely is to make it in a context where it is taken as purportedly true; e.g., not on a stage).

I seem to remember that Harry Frankfurt gave a definition of lying in one of his small books, the ones that truthaddict mentioned. They are absolutely brilliant. If he did so, I’m sure it’s better than the one I just gave.

I will try to bring the book to work tomorrow and transcribe the quote, if any. (PS: I thought it was “bullshit” that he sold those two little essays as two separate books when he could have saved me money by packaging them as, still, a small book.)

Like I was pointing out to Chris, I think the point Dezra is making is that lying/deception comes in many shades and for many “services.” Which is another reason I was suggesting the Trivers & Newton essay.

Your definition is good for a particular kind of deceit, but the lying we know we are talking about could also be unconscious, meaning we have internalized the lie and believe it ourselves. Again, this is something Trivers and Newton got into. Trivers and Newton give a plane crash as an example and reference a Feynman comment on a space shuttle explosion. It really is worth looking into.

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Posted: 10 February 2009 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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And when someone is lying and you are “in on the false statement” does that NOT make it a lie? For example, a friend tells his wife he is going out for drinks with some friends but you “are in on” knowing that he is, in fact, seeing another woman.

Of course not: the wife’s not in on the lie, so it’s still a lie.

And even if you are not “in on it” and you still know it is a “false statement” does that NOT make it a lie? For example, your wife tells you she is not upset but you know this to be false.

No, my wife is saying, “I AM upset, but I don’t want to make you feel bad or have a fight over it, so let’s just act as if I am not upset.” Human expression can be subtle without being a lie. I offer here another graphic example of my meaning:

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Posted: 10 February 2009 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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truthaddict - 10 February 2009 03:31 PM

(PS: I thought it was “bullshit” that he sold those two little essays as two separate books when he could have saved me money by packaging them as, still, a small book.)

Different publishers, different times. He did Bullshit as a goofy one-off with Princeton U. Press, and it was such an unexpected hit that he got picked up by Knopf for the second essay ... anyhow they’re both pretty cheap and definitely worth it if you’re into philosophical clarity.

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Posted: 10 February 2009 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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dougsmith - 10 February 2009 03:48 PM
truthaddict - 10 February 2009 03:31 PM

(PS: I thought it was “bullshit” that he sold those two little essays as two separate books when he could have saved me money by packaging them as, still, a small book.)

Different publishers, different times. He did Bullshit as a goofy one-off with Princeton U. Press, and it was such an unexpected hit that he got picked up by Knopf for the second essay ... anyhow they’re both pretty cheap and definitely worth it if you’re into philosophical clarity.

Ah scuzzlebutt! They were great to read, and the On Bullshit had me rolling.

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