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TRUTH-TELLING, LYING AND SELF-DECEPTION / Vol. 63, No. 3 (Fall 1996)

October 1, 1996

Arien Mack, Editor

 

Table of Contents

 

Bernard Williams
Truth, Politics, and Self-Deception

This article analyzes the methods of transmitting the truth. According to the article, there are social practices and virtues which, if we are to characterize them, require us to mention the truth. We may contrast in this respect two different virtues of truth, which may be labeled sincerity and accuracy. Sincerity merely implies that people say what they believe to be true, that is, what they believe. Accuracy implies care, reliability, and so on in discovering and coming to believe the truth.

 

Alan Ryan
Professional Liars

Presents the author's views on truthfulness and falsehood among professionals. Notion behind the professional lie; Professions associated with the concept including doctors and lawyers; Significance of consequentialisms to truthfulness.  [reprinted in 70th Anniversary issue, 71:4]

 

John Hollander
The Shadow of a Lie: Poetry, Lying and the Truth of Fictions

This article presents the author's views on the relation of fiction to literal falsehood. Claims of poet Philip Sidney regarding verdical truth; Relation of truth to historical fact; Self-deception in poetry.

 

Wendy Doniger
Sex, Lies, and Tall Tales

This article discusses the relationship between sex and lying. It could be argued that all forms of love are deluding, including love of one's children, love of country and even love of animals. But sexual love is arguably the most deluding form of love. The word false thus has both a weak and a strong meaning: in its weak form, its normal form, a woman is false to her lover if she makes love with someone else; in its stronger, mythological form, she is false to him if she is someone else. In the first case, the oath of love is a false copy of the true oath; in the second, the person is a false copy of the true lover. Men have more difficulty in lying about physical aspects of sex, such as desire.

 

Thomas R. Whitaker
Holding Up the Mirror: Deception as Revelation in the Theater

Presents the author's views on the aspect of deception in theater and drama. Relationship between histrionic structures in the performed action on stage and those in the action of performance, in which actors and audience participate; Background on several theatrical productions displaying deception and self-deception; Element of deception in comedies in the Western tradition.

 

Michael J. Chandler and Jamie Afifi
On Making a Virtue of the Telling of Lies: Deception as a Marker of Children's Developing Conceptions of Mental Life

This article discusses deception among children. According to the article, the ordinary intuition that the telling of successful lies requires a measure of admirable cognitive complexity is also typically matched by the corollary assumption that the ability to tell a really good journeyman sort of lie, one that will not come back to haunt you, is a skill that is slow to be acquired and perhaps altogether missing in children of a certain tender age. A broadening of the subject of lying sufficient to also include non-verbal forms of deceit, the problem arises that things could quickly get out of hand.

 

Nicholas S. Thompson, Carolyn Olson and Brian Dessureau
Babies' Cries: Who's Listening?  Who's Being Fooled?

This article analyzes the effects of babies' cries on their social partners. The crying of a baby shares many features with the displays of animals--showy behaviors that have evolved because of their effects on partners in homo- or hetero-specific interactions. These adult responses bear some resemblance to instinctive responses: they are stereotyped and seem not to be the product of training. Despite the similarity of babies' crying to the evolved displays of animals, evolutionary analysis has not yet played an important role in our understanding of their cries and of the parental responses they evoke.

 

David Shapiro
On the Psychology of Self-Deception

We learn that there are two kinds of knowing: knowing “in a way” and “really” knowing. Furthermore, the transition from one to the other occurs upon “saying it out loud.” The difference, in other words, is not a matter of acquiring additional information, but of conscious articulation of what was already in some sense known but not articulated. One might call it a process of consciousness raising.

 

Paul Ekman
Why Don't We Catch Liars?

This article comments on several studies providing evidence which suggests that people are poor lie catchers. The article discusses the distinction between lies and other forms of deception; opportunities for lying in modern industrial societies; the importance for members of the criminal justice and intelligence communities to have better skills in identifying liars from demeanor.

 

Robert W. Mitchell
The Psychology of Human Deception

Presents the author's views on the psychology of human deception. It discusses the effect of deception on communicative action oriented toward reaching understanding and methods used by the deceiver in carrying out the deception, as well as the significance of secrecy to the control of information received by the victim.

 

Perez Zagorin
The Historical Significance of Lying and Dissimulation

Presents the author's views on the historical significance of lying and dissimulation. It provides a background on published writing and research on lying and deception, an opinion of psychologists, sociologists and other investigators on lying as a type of behavior; There is also information on a work by economist Timur Kuran on dissimulation arising from pressures for conformity.

 

Mary Mothersill
Some Questions About Truthfulness and Lying

Presents the author's views on truthfulness and lying. It discusses the attitude of children towards lying; information on the consequentialism theory behind the ethics of lying; and the relation of truth to belief.

 

Lore Segal
My Grandfather's Walking Stick, Or The Pink Lie

Presents the author's views on the aspect of self-deception in hoping. The article provides a definition of the term lie according to the Oxford English Dictionary and information on the essay "The Memory of the Offense," by Primo Levi, which discusses the revisionism of a painful past by both victim and perpetrator. There is also background on the experiences of the author regarding hope's deceitful nature.

 

 

 

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