• Patulia
    "Can you lie but at the same time tell the truth?"
    This question came up to my mind quite recently, and I personally find it intriguing because I think lying is more than just not telling the truth, which, however, is what the definition of lying says, isn't it?

    To explain myself I'm going to give an example:
    Let's say you and your friend are in a field. Your friend is blindfolded and cannot see what's going on around him or her; you, on the other hand, have your eyes opened and can have a look at your surroundings. At one point, you see an animal you identify as a dog, but for some reason, you choose to tell your temporary blind friend that what you saw was a cat.

    Everyone can agree on the fact that what you have just said is a lie, since you have willingly stated something which is not true.

    But if the animal came closer to you and you realized that you were wrong and that it was a cat, not a dog, would this still make what you told your friend a lie?

    Should we consider only objective truth when talking about lying or should we take in consideration also what *we* consider being the truth, so subjective factors?
  • Pattern-chaser
    Should we consider only objective truth when talking about lying or should we take in consideration also what *we* consider being the truth, so subjective factorsPatulia

    I think this is a great example of how unhelpful the concept of "objective truth" can be. As for lying, I think it includes an element of intention. If you told an untruth unknowingly, it's a lie in the sense that what you said is incorrect, but you did not intend to mislead, and you told the truth as you understood it. So is it really a "lie"? It comes down to semantics, and the definition of "lie" that you decide upon.
  • Terrapin Station
    Honesty versus dishonesty (lying) depends on what the person in question believes.

    You're honest if you report what you believe. You're dishonest if you report something that you take to contradict what you believe.

    So if you believe you see a dog, but you say you see a cat, you're being dishonest/you're lying. The fact that it turns out to be a cat is irrelevant (for whether you're being honest).
  • Relativist
    We should draw a distinction between telling an untruth and telling a lie.

    When you tell the friend there is a cat, you have lied despite it actually being true. When you mistakenly believe the temperature is 35 degrees (it's actually 34 degrees) and you tell someone this, you have told an untruth but have not lied.
  • Relativist
    Given the subject, shouldn't this be merged with the all-inclusive Donald Trump thread? :wink:
  • Mariner
    Yes. You tell the truth in such a way that your interlocutor disbelieves it.

    In other words, you introduce a divergence between the spoken and the non-verbal language. People usually go for the non-verbal, and therefore disbelieve the spoken.

    A skill mastered by many teenagers.
  • MrCrowley
    Sure you can.

    If you intentionally divulge only parts of whole truth as you know it, you give a dishonest representation of the matter at hand, thus leading the audience to form a distorted image of the events.
  • god must be atheist
    A resounding YES!

    People can agree to speak in negative, or negative denying terms (lies) when they want to affirm, confirm, or state things.

    "I did not go to bed last night at 8 pm" would mean "I went to bed last night at 8 pm". The utterance is a lie, but it's been agreed that negatories must be taken the other way around.
  • Razorback kitten

    You can't lie and then afterwards, realising what you said was actually correct, erase the lie. It remains a lie but changes from false to true. All that happens is the liar becomes a mistaken liar who happened to be correct. To define what a lie is you must invoke truth and falsehood but to define wether something is true or false, lying doesn't need to be mentioned. In other works, a lie can be true or false.
  • Artemis

    It depends what you mean.

    I can say something that is technically true, but know that the person I'm speaking to will hear it a certain way that is actually a lie.
  • Razorback kitten

    Is it not then still a lie as you are aware of the deceit?
  • Artemis

    Well, yes, but since it is technically the truth, it is both the truth and a lie at the same time.

    I'm trying to come up with a good example...

    Like, for instance, if wife confronts husband about cheating:
    "I saw you with Susan in the park yesterday! Admit it, you're cheating on me!!"
    "Honey, I would never cheat on you with Susan! I love you, and anyway, Susan is gay."

    She (perhaps) hears that he's not cheating on her, but actually he is, it's just with Mary, who is not gay, but bi-curious, and even though he does love his wife, he's gotten a little bored in their marriage, and furthermore she spends more time at the country club than with him, so who could blame him, really?

  • Razorback kitten
    Me. He's a liar and a cheat. Not to mention a coward. Looks to me like maybe you have done some of this wish washy, half lie, half truth rubbish and you want some positive reinforcement. That it's not the same as lying?
  • Artemis
    Looks to me like maybe you have done some of this wish washy, half lie, half truth rubbish and you want some positive reinforcement.Razorback kitten

    Well, that ad hominem just came out of nowhere.

    That it's not the same as lying?Razorback kitten

    I'm afraid you seem to be missing the whole point here. He IS lying. But he IS telling the truth technically. It's both at the same time.
  • TheMadFool
    I think we need to look at the definition of a lie carefully.

    Merriam Webster definition: :rofl:
    Lie = to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive

    Two points:

    1. A false/untrue statement
    2. Intent to deceive

    The later discovery that the "dog" was a cat defeats 1. You made a true statement.

    As you may have noticed you couldn't rectify 2, the intent to deceive.

    So, you still lied which means you can lie and tell the truth.
  • petrichor
    We should draw a distinction between telling an untruth and telling a lie.Relativist

    This ^^^^

    There is a difference between lying that you are seeing a cat and it being true that you are in fact seeing a cat. Only if you wrongly equivocate here, thinking these are the same, do you seem to have a contradiction.

    Truth and lie are actually a bit different from true and false. The first has to do with whether or not you intend to deceive. Does what you say correspond to what you believe? The second has to do with what actually is the case. Does the claim correspond with reality?

    Tell us the truth, Jimmy!

    It is true that the earth is round.

    There is a relation though, as to tell the truth is to tell what you believe is actually true. You could be mistaken in that belief while being truthful (not intending to deceive).

    If we say that it is a lie that the earth is round, this has a different meaning from saying that it is false that it is round. To say that it is a lie implies that someone deliberately intended to deceive us when they made the claim. To say that it is false is to say that the belief that the earth is round simply fails to correspond to reality. Lying implies dishonesty on the part of a moral agent, while the making of false statements doesn't necessarily.
  • 180 Proof
    "Can you lie but at the same time tell the truth?" — Patulia

    To be, or not to be? That is the question --
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And, by opposing, end them?

    Yes. Art is one way to do it.
  • Congau
    We can be never be completely sure about anything. Therefore, whenever we make a statement, any statement, what we are actually saying is “I believe that…” “That is a dog” actually means “I believe that that is a dog.” If I really believe it’s a dog, I’m not lying, if I don’t believe it, I’m lying.

    The meaning of “telling the truth” is ambiguous. It may mean “saying what is objectively true”. In that case we never know for sure when we are telling the truth. It may also simply mean the opposite of telling a lie. This is a linguistic problem that cannot be solved.
  • S

    I have two mobile phones. I type up the first text on one of the phones saying that I murdered your family. And then I type up a second text on the other phone saying that I didn't murder your family. Then I send them both at the same time.

    The second text was a lie.
  • Bartricks
    I don't think your example works, but there is one that it is more difficult to deal with.
    Your example doesn't work because lying has two elements - you must intentionally say something untrue. In your example what you said was true, not false. So, though you intended to mislead by what you said, you did not lie.
    Similarly, if you sincerely thought it was a dog and said that it was a dog, then you did not lie either even though what you said was untrue, for this time there was no intention to say something false.

    The case - or type of case - that poses more difficulty, though, is this one: what if you said "I am not telling the truth"? Is that proposition true or false? If it is true, then it would also seem to be false, and if it is false then it would also seem to be true.
  • jajsfaye
    For me, it seems that to tell a lie, the information you are dispensing must meet two requirements:
    1. It is incorrect.
    2. It was your intention for it to be incorrect.

    If you think it's a dog and you say it is a cat, and it turns out it really is a cat, then you gave correct information. I think of that as a failed attempt to lie.
  • Coben
    Should we consider only objective truth when talking about lying or should we take in consideration also what *we* consider being the truth, so subjective factors?Patulia
    Can you be honest and dishonest at the same time is a tighter question, I think. IOW it puts more pressure as a paradox. Lying and telling the truth are not quite opposites. I just had a sexual encounter. My wife asks me where I was. I say, the library. Why were you there? to find an article on X. Find, but I met a woman and I'm late because we spent two hours having sex in the zoology section. I lied. If I were the one cheated on, I would consider that all a lie, especially if my tone had been surprised in my question, since you are very late coming home or whatever. One can lie with the truth.

    Can one be dishonest and honest at the same time?

    Well, sure, but probably not in the precise moments and precise communicatory acts.
    and what he or she said, too....
  • Serving Zion
    "Can you lie but at the same time tell the truth?"Patulia
    The truth can be used as a lie, for sure. A lie is, by nature, leading a person to understand a thing that is not true.

    In your example, it would have been a lie to lead my friend to believe I had seen a cat when I had seen a dog. If I had said I'd seen a dog, and afterward discovered that it was a cat, it would not be a lie to say I had seen a dog, because I had seen the animal insuffiently to accurately discern it's type, thus it's appearance resembled a dog to the best of my ability. I was within rights to believe it was a dog until clarification became available.

    Consider what Jesus said of the devil: "he is the father of lies. When he lies, he speaks his native language", and St Paul echoes: "Satan masquerades as an angel of light". Others have said "the most convincing lies are sprinkled among truth".

    Everyone knows that truth is an honorable thing. Everybody knows that it is dishonorable to be disaligned with the truth. Yet, there are times when people's views are not of the truth.

    When a person is trying to convince others that they are doing truth when they are doing lie, they are still bound to use elements of truth in their campaign - although ultimately, their use of it is invalid, because their objective is to lead someone to an understanding that is not of the truth.

    "[...] no lie is of the truth" 1 John 2:21
  • Terrapin Station
    I would say, by the way, that there would be a way that we could maybe make sense of out "lying but tell the truth," although it wouldn't be via your example.

    Rather, this is basically what we're doing when we're being facetious or sarcastic. Someone does something and asks how it was, and you say, "Oh, yeah, that was great" sarcastically--so in other words, you thought it was awful. Technically it's not really a lie--you're expressing what you honestly think, it's just that you're doing it, via a type of implicature, with an expression that you'd normally use to express the opposite of what you're saying.
  • Terrapin Station

    Yeah, I'd agree with your example, too. If you're being selective to be misleading, but you're not actually saying anything that you don't believe to be the case.
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