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Understanding Bald-Faced Lies

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An Experimental Approach

image of International Review of Pragmatics

Bald-faced lies seem to be lies that lack a typical property of genuine lies, namely the intent of the speaker to deceive the hearer. Therefore, several scholars propose that the intention to deceive should not be part of a proper definition of lying. In contrast to this “non-deceptionist” approach, it has been argued by “deceptionists” that bald-faced lies are either no real lies or that they are connected to an intention to deceive. This paper reports a questionnaire study in which participants were asked whether target utterances in eight cases of putative bald-faced lies were (i) lies, (ii) were deceptive, (iii) and were brazen. Overall, bald-faced lies were considered as lies and as deceptive. With respect to brazenness, participants clearly distinguished between brazen and non-brazen utterances. This shows that the degree of brazenness is an important property of bald-faced lies.

Affiliations: 1: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz


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