Jennifer Mather Saul (University of Sheffield) has a new book out from Oxford University Press: Lying, Misleading, and What is Said: An Exploration in Philosophy of Language and in Ethics. The publisher’s blurb reads:

Many people (both philosophers and not) find it very natural to think that deceiving someone in a way that avoids lying—by merely misleading—is morally preferable to simply lying. Others think that this preference is deeply misguided. But all sides agree that there is a distinction. In Lying, Misleading, and What is Said, Jennifer Saul undertakes a close examination of the lying/misleading distinction. Saul begins by using this very intuitive distinction to shed new light on entrenched debates in philosophy of language over notions like what is said. Next, she tackles the puzzling but widespread moral preference for misleading over lying, and arrives at a new view regarding the moral significance of the distinction. Finally, Saul draws her conclusions together to examine a range of historically important and interesting cases, from a consideration of modern politicians to the early Jesuits.

Luvell Anderson (University of Memphis) recently reviewed it for NDPR. His review begins:

In this excellent and enjoyable book, Jennifer Saul explores issues at the convergence of the philosophy of language and ethics. Her book is an excellent addition to a growing literature of what might be considered applied philosophy of language.

In chapter 1 Saul lays out her definition of lying. She indicates that although there are senses of lying that may include all intentional deceptions, she is only interested in the sense of lying that contrasts with misleading; and this will importantly involve the notion of saying. That there is a linguistic distinction between lying and misleading is quite intuitive. Saul illustrates the distinction with the following statement by former president Clinton on his relationship with Monica Lewinsky,

(1) There is no improper relationship.

If we are taking ‘is’ in (1) as a present-tense denial, then it seems Clinton cannot be charged with lying if at the time he was not involved with Lewinsky. Although (1) might be misleading, what Clinton said was strictly speaking true (as opposed to what he may have conveyed, which is that he and Lewinsky never had any improper relations, at anytime whatsoever). [Click here to read on]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s