Lying with Conditionals



If you read this abstract, then you will understand what my essay is about. Under what conditions would the preceding assertion be a lie? Traditional definitions of lying are always applied to straight declaratives such as ‘The dog ate my homework’. This one sided diet of examples leaves us unprepared for sentences in which conditional probability governs assertibility. The truth-value of conditionals does not play a significant role in the sincere assertion of conditionals. Lying is insincere assertion. So the connection between lying and falsehood is broken when lying with conditionals. Drawing on Frank Jackson's account of indicative conditionals. I argue that it is possible to lie with true conditionals by virtue of their false conventional implicatures. False conversational implicatures only guarantee misleading assertions, not lies. Lying remains a semantic rather than a pragmatic affair.