Lying as a Political Wrong


In Speech Matters, Seana Shiffrin claims that certain lies should be tolerated on grounds of political inclusiveness. If political equality requires perfect compliance with fair terms of social cooperation, and if lying violates those terms, then liars might be at risk of losing their standing as political equals. To avoid that draconian result requires accommodation of moral imperfections, including some lies. In response, I argue that Shiffrin’s view may have broader implications for requirements of sincerity under non-ideal political conditions. In some circumstances, where there is widespread defection from fair terms of cooperation, lying might be a moral but not a political wrong.

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Correspondence to Micah Schwartzman.

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Joseph W. Dorn Research Professor of Law. For helpful comments and discussion, I thank Leslie Kendrick and Andrew Lister.

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Schwartzman, M. Lying as a Political Wrong. Law and Philos 38, 507–515 (2019).

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