Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 2, pp 461–477 | Cite as

Bald-faced lies: how to make a move in a language game without making a move in a conversation



According to the naïve, pre-theoretic conception, lying seems to be characterized by the intent to deceive. However, certain kinds of bald-faced lies appear to be counterexamples to this view, and many philosophers have abandoned it as a result. I argue that this criticism of the naïve view is misplaced; bald-faced lies are not genuine instances of lying because they are not genuine instances of assertion. I present an additional consideration in favor of the naïve view, which is that abandoning it comes at an extremely high price; alternative accounts which eschew the intent-to-deceive condition on lying have difficulty distinguishing lies from non-literal speech.


Assertion Bald-faced lies Non-literal speech Indirect speech Linguistic convention Performative utterance 



For helpful comments and discussion I thank Liz Camp, Rachel McKinney, Jason Stanley, Zoltán Szabó, Bruno Whittle, and an anonymous referee, as well as the participants in Yale’s Spring 2014 Works In Progress seminar and the students and mentors at the 2014 Networking and Mentoring Workshop for Graduate Student Women in Philosophy where earlier versions of this paper were presented.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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