The bathroom scale doesn't lie, but it doesn't tell the truth either. It is either accurate or inaccurate. Only a spiritual being can be either deceptive or truthful.
I cannot lie by simply saying something false. I must have the intention to deceive. That is perfectly clear. Rather less obvious is that to tell the truth it does not suffice to say something true: I must also have the intention to be truthful.
"He told the truth but he wasn't being truthful" is not a contradiction. This is no more a contradiction than "He said something false but he wasn't intending to deceive." But how could one tell the truth without being truthful? One way is by saying something that happens to be true while intending to deceive. Another way is by saying something true to distract the hearer from the salient issue. A third way is by saying something true but omitting other truths relevant to the contextualization and understanding of the first.
Suppose the following sentence is true: "Jane shot Sam several times in the chest with a .45 caliber pistol after he came at her with a knife threatening to rape her." Someone who assertively utters the first independent clause while omitting to utter the second has said something true without being truthful.
In sum, one can say what is false without being untruthful and one can say what is true without being truthful.
Persons, not propositions, are truthful or the opposite. Propositions, not persons, are true or the opposite.
And yet there is some connection between truth and truthfulness.
Here is a mere outline of an argument. In a world without mind there could be no truth. For truth is some sort of correspondence or adequation of mind and world. There are no free-floating truths, no Wahrheiten an sich. Truth is moored in mind. But truth is absolute: it transcends the contents and powers of finite minds. The true is not what you or I believe or what all of us believe. Nor is the true the believable. The true is not the rationally acceptable, not even the rationally at the ideal limit of inquiry. The true is not the warrantedly assertible. There no viable epistemic/doxastic analysis of the truth predicate. And yet truth involves mind. Enter divine mind. The truth is grounded in the divine truthfulness. In God, truth and truthfulness colaesce.
Well, I warned you that it was a mere outline. Brevity is the soul of blog.
Here is the video clip of Obama lying to Romney and the rest of us in their second debate. Obama lies when he claims that on the Arizona law (S. B. 1070) law enforcement officers can stop people whom they merely suspect of being undocumented workers. Obama has told this lie before.
President Barack Obama hailed the Supreme Court's 5-3 decision Monday that struck down most of Arizona's 2010 immigration law. In a statement released by the White House, however, the president said that he remains "concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally."
All eight voting members of the Supreme Court upheld this provision, which requires that Arizona cops try to determine the immigration status of individuals who have been stopped for reasons not involving immigration.
Please note the difference between what the president is quoted as saying and what Saunders correctly reports the S.B. 1070 provision as requiring. The law requires "that Arizona cops try to determine the immigration status of individuals who have been stopped for reasons not involving immigration." President Obama of course knows this. So Obama lied in his statement when he said that "the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally."
People are so easy to swindle because the swindler has as accomplices the victim's own moral defects. When good judgment and moral sense are suborned by lust or greed or sloth or vanity or anger, the one swindled participates willingly in his own undoing. In the end he swindles himself.
How is it, for example, that Bernie Madoff 'made off' with so much loot? You have otherwise intelligent people who are lazy, greedy and vain: too lazy to do their own research and exercise due diligence, too greedy to be satisfied with the going rate of return, and too vain to think that anything bad can happen to such high-placed and sophisticated investors as themselves.
Or take the Enron employees. They invested their 401 K money in the very firm that that paid their salaries! Now how stupid is that? But they weren't stupid; they stupified themselves by allowing the subornation of their good sense by their vices.
The older I get the more I appreciate that our problems, most of them and at bottom, are moral in nature. Why, for example, are we and our government in dangerous debt? A lack of money? No, a lack of virtue. People cannot curtail desire, defer gratification, be satisfied with what they have, control their lower natures, pursue truly choice-worthy ends.
Perhaps you have heard of taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine that allows lying in certain circumstances, primarily when Muslim minorities live under infidel authority. Now meet tawriya, a doctrine that allows lying in virtually all circumstances—including to fellow Muslims and by swearing to Allah—provided the liar is creative enough to articulate his deceit in a way that is true to him.
[. . .]
As a doctrine, "double-entendre" best describes tawriya's function. According to past and present Muslim scholars (several documented below), tawriya is when a speaker says something that means one thing to the listener, though the speaker means something else, and his words technically support this alternate meaning.
For example, if someone declares "I don't have a penny in my pocket," most listeners will assume the speaker has no money on him—though he might have dollar bills, just literally no pennies. Likewise, say a friend asks you, "Do you know where Mike is?" You do, but prefer not to divulge. So you say "No, I don't know"—but you keep in mind another Mike, whose whereabouts you really do not know.
This curious bagatelle is wending its way through the World Wide Web. The cartoon is supposed to be paradoxical in some way. The reader who brought it to my attention writes, "A friend and myself actually debated this at length over lunch, and I argued that at best it is a performative inconsistency. I'm sure you have a more nuanced opinion on this silly meme!"
Well, let's see. The salient feature of Pinocchio is that his nose grows whenever he tells a lie. From this one guesses that the paradox has something to do with lying. Now a lie is not the same as a false statement; it is a false statement made with the intention to deceive by someone who knows the truth. (Or so I will assume for the space of this post.) If this is what a lie is, then one cannot lie about matters that are not objectively the case and known to be such. Suppose I predict that tomorrow morning, at 6 AM, my blood pressure will be 125/75, but my prediction turns out false: my blood pressure the next morning is 135/85. No one who heard my prediction could claim that I lied when I made it even if I had the intention of deceiving my hearers. For although I made (what turned out to be) a false statement with the intention to deceive, I had no way of knowing exactly what my blood pressure would be the next day.
Similarly with 'My nose will grow now.' This sentence does not express an intention on Pinocchio's part to bring about a nose lengthening by the power of his will since presumably he never has such an intention. The sentence is a future tense sentence which predicts what is about to happen. 'Now' does not refer to the time of utterance, but to a time right after it. (If you argue that the presence of 'now' renders the sentence present tense, then the sentence is incoherent, and the 'paradox' cannot get off the ground.)
It follows that Pinocchio cannot be lying. Assuming the Law of Excluded Middle and Bivalence, what he says is either true or false. Either way, no paradox arises that I can see.
But suppose Pinnochio utters the present tense sentence, 'My nose grows now' or 'My nose is growing now.' Does this issue in paradox?
If Pinocchio says 'My nose grows now,' he is either lying or not. If he is lying, then he is making a false statement, which implies that his nose does not grow now. If he is not lying, then his statement is either true or false, which implies that either his nose does grow now or his nose does not grow now. Therefore, either his nose does not grow now or his nose does grow now. But that is wholly unproblematic.
Therefore I fail to find any paradox here if a paradox is either a logical consistency or a performative inconsistency.
What am I missing? There is a 2010 Analysis article under this rubric. But I don't have access to it at the moment, and I'm not sure the topic is exactly the same.
Why do people exaggerate in serious contexts? The logically prior question is: What is exaggeration, and how does it differ from lying, bullshitting, and metaphorical uses of language? A physician in a radio broadcast the other morning said, "You can't be too thin, too rich, or have too low a cholesterol level."
Note first that the medico was not joking but making a serious point. But he couched this serious point in a sentence which is plainly false. Since he had no intention of deceiving his audience, and since the point he was making (not merely trying to make) about cholesterol is true, he was not lying. He was not bullshitting either since he was not trying to misrepresent himself as knowing something he does not know or more than he knows.
Exaggeration bears some resemblance to metaphor. If I say, 'Sally is a block of ice,' I speak metaphorically or figuratively. What I say is literally false. But by saying it, I manage to convey to the listener some such proposition as that Sally is unemotional and (perhaps) sexually unresponsive. And when the sawbones exaggerated, though he said something literally false, he managed to convey to his audience the true proposition that total cholesterol levels for most of us need reducing.
But I wouldn't want to say that the good doctor was speaking metaphorically. I am merely pointing to a similarity between metaphor and exaggeration. The similarity may consist in the coming apart of sentence meaning and speaker's meaning. In both examples, the sentence meaning is that of a falsehood. The speaker, however, using those literally false sentences means something different from what the words 'by themselves' mean, and manages to convey truths to his hearers.
So I suggest that to understand exaggeration we need to understand metaphor so that we can delimit the former from the latter. But what exactly is metaphor? That's a tough one. Here I catalog three specimens of exaggeration by well-known philosophers.
Not content to say what is true, people exaggerate thereby turning the true into the false. Three examples from sober philosophers.
Martin Buber, who is certainly no Frenchman, writes that “a melody is not composed of tones, nor a verse of words...” (I and Thou, p. 59) His point is that a melody cannot be reduced to its individual notes, nor a verse to its constituent words. But he expresses this truth in a way that makes it absurdly false. A melody without tones would be no melody at all. The litterateur exaggerates for literary effect, but Buber is no mere litterateur. So what is going on?
For a second example, consider Martin Heidegger. Somewhere in Sein und Zeit he writes that Das Dasein ist nie vorhanden. The human being is never present-at-hand. This is obviously false in that the human being has a body which is present-at-hand in nature as surely as any animal or stone. What he is driving at is the truth -- or at least the plausibility -- that the human being enjoys a special mode of Being, Existenz, that is radically unlike the Vorhandenheit of the mere thing in nature and the Zuhandenheit of the tool. So why doesn’t he speak the truth, and nothing but the truth, without exaggerating?
And then there is Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, according to J. N. Findlay, “took every wrong turn a philosopher can take.” (Personal communication) Wittgenstein’s fideism involves such absurd exaggerations as that religions imply no theoretical views. But when a Christian, reciting the Nicene creed, says “I believe in God the Father, almighty creator of heaven and earth...” he commits himself thereby to the metaphysical view that heaven and earth have a certain ontological status, namely, that of being creatures.
Of course, the Christian is doing more than this: his ‘I believe’ expresses trust in God as a person and not mere belief that certain propositions are true. But to deny that there is any propositional content to his belief would be ludicrous. And yet that appears to be what Wittgenstein is doing.
What is it to bullshit? Perhaps the best way to understand bullshitting is by comparing it to lying. So what is it to lie? The first thing to understand is that a lie is not the same as a false statement. Suppose I make a statement about something but my statement turns out to be false. It does not follow that I have lied. Suppose a latter-day Rip van Winkle wakes up from a long nap and, asked about the Dodgers, says, "They are a baseball team from Brooklyn." Has our man lied? Not at all. He simply hasn't kept up with 'recent' developments.
For a statement to count as a lie two conditions must be satisfied: (a) the statement must be false; (b) the statement must be made with the intention to deceive. These conditions are individually necessary and jointly sufficient. But what if someone states what he believes to be false with the intention to deceive, but it turns out that what he states is true? Isn't that also a lie? Not by the definition I just gave. So it looks as if we are in the presence of two concepts of lying. The concept just defined is the narrower and more usual concept. The other, broader concept, results by the deletion of condition (a).