Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2017 | 26/2 | 79-100

Article title

Lying and Misleading within the Philosophy of Language: A Relevance-Theoretic Perspective


Title variants

Languages of publication



The aim of the paper is to examine the lying/misleading distinction from a relevance-theoretic perspective (cf. Sperber and Wilson [1986] 1995; 2004; Wilson and Sperber 2002; 2012). On standard accounts, the distinction is drawn parallel to the saying/implicating distinction. ‘What is said’, rooted in Grice (1975), has been subject to extensive discussion and numerous reanalyses under a variety of terms (see, for example, Recanati 1993; Bach 1994; Carston 2002), but no agreement has been reached as to the content of ‘what is said’ and the borderline between ‘what is said’ and ‘what is implicated’. Accordingly, within the philosophy of language the attempts to capture the lying/misleading distinction (Meibauer 2005; 2011; 2014ab; Saul 2012ab; Stokke 2013; 2016) rely on diff erent notions of ‘what is said’. The paper is an attempt to take a stance in the debate on the distinction under discussion from the perspective of Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson [1986] 1995; 2004; Wilson and Sperber 2012), which is a cognitive extension and modifi cation of Gricean model of communication and has been seriously concerned with the elaborated concept of what is said, known as ‘explicature’. One of our goals is to see how the relevance-theoretic understanding of “what is said” (Carston 2002; 2009; 2010; Carston and Hall 2012) aff ects the lying/misleading distinction, and the other way round. In an attempt to provide ground for the relevance-theoretic account, a critical overview and comparison of the existing approaches to lying and misleading is also presented.


  • University of Warsaw


  • Deferrari, Roy. Ed. 1952. “Lying.” Treaties on Various Subjects. New York: Fathers of the Church. Vol. 16. 53–120.
  • Bach, Kent. 1994. “Conversational Implicature.” Mind and Language 9: 124–162.
  • Bok, Sissela. 1978. Lying: Moral Choice in Private and Public Life. New York: Random House.
  • Carson, Thomas L. 2010. Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice. Oxford:
  • Oxford University Press.
  • Carston, Robyn. 2002. Thoughts and Utterances. The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication.Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Carston, Robyn. 2009. “The Explicit/Implicit Distinction in Pragmatics and the
  • Limits of Explicit Communication.” International Review of Pragmatics 1.1: 35–62.
  • Carston, Robyn. 2010. “Explicit Communication and “Free” Pragmatic Enrichment.”
  • Explicit Communication: Essays on Robyn Carston’s Pragmatics. Ed.
  • Belen Soria, and Esther Romero. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 217–287.
  • Carston, Robyn, and Alison Hall. 2012. “Implicature and Explicature.” Handbook of Cognitive Pragmatics. Ed. Hans-Jörg Schmid. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 47–84.
  • Coleman, Linda, and Paul Kay. 1981. “Prototype Semantics: The English Verb Lie.” Language 57.1: 26–44.
  • Davidson, Donald. 1985. “Deception and Division.” The Multiple Self. Ed. John Elster. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. 79–92.
  • Fallis, Don. 2009. “What Is Lying?” The Journal of Philosophy 106.1: 29–56.
  • Goldman, Alvin. 1999. Knowledge in a Social World. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Green, Stuart. 2001. “Lying, Misleading, and Falsely Denying: How Moral Concepts Inform the Law of Perjury, Fraud, and False Statements.” Hastings Law Journal 53: 157–212.
  • Grice, Paul Herbert. 1975. “Logic and Conversation.” Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech Acts. Ed. Peter Cole, and Jerry Morgan. New York: Academic Press. 41–58. Reprinted in Herbert Paul Grice. 1989. Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 22–40.
  • Grice, Paul Herbert. 1978. “Further Notes on Logic and Conversation.” Syntax and Semantics 9. Ed. Peter Cole. New York: Academic Press Words. 113–127. Reprinted in Herbert Paul Grice. 1989. Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 41–57.
  • Kant, Immanuel.1797. “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.” First published as “Über ein vermeintes Recht, ausMenschenliebe zu lügen”. Berlinische Blätter 10: 301–314. Translated and reprinted in Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy. Ed. Mary J. Gregor 1997. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. 611–615.
  • Kisielewska-Krysiuk, Marta. 2016. “Lying and the Relevance-Theoretic Explicit/ Implicit Distinction.” Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 25.2: 73–86.
  • Kupfer, Joseph. 1982. “The Moral Presumption Against Lying”. Review of Metaphysics 36: 103–126.
  • Mahon, James. 2008. “Two Defi nitions of Lying.” International Journal of Applied Philosophy 22: 211–230.
  • Meibauer, Jörg. 2005. “Lying and Falsely Implicating.” Journal of Pragmatics 37: 1373–1399.
  • Meibauer, Jörg. 2011. “On Lying: Intentionality, Implicature and Imprecision.” Intercultural Pragmatics 8.2: 277–292.
  • Meibauer, Jörg. 2014a. Lying at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface. (Mouton Series in Pragmatics 14). Berlin, New York: De Gruyter Mouton
  • Meibauer, Jörg. 2014b. “A Truth That’s Told with Bad Intent. Lying and Implicit Content.” Belgian Journal of Linguistics 28: 97–118. Oxford English Dictionary. 1989. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Primoratz, Igor. 1984. “Lying and the ‘Methods of Ethics’.” International Studies in Philosophy 16: 35–57.
  • Recanati, François. 1989. “The Pragmatics of What is Said.” Mind and Language 4.4: 295–329. Reprinted in: Pragmatics: A Reader. Ed. Steven Davis. 1991. New York: Oxford University Press. 97–120.
  • Recanati, François. 1993. Direct Reference. Oxford, Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell.
  • Saul, Jennifer. 2012a. Lying, Misleading, and What is Said. An Exploration in Philosophy of Language and in Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Saul, Jennifer. 2012b. “Just Go Ahead and Lie.” Analysis 72.1: 3–9.
  • Searle, John. 1969. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sperber, Dan. 2001. “An Evolutionary Perspective on Testimony and Argumentation.” Philosophical Topics 29: 401–413.
  • Sperber, Dan. 2013. “Speakers are Honest because Hearers are Vigilant: Reply to Kourken Michaelian.” Episteme 10.1: 61–71.
  • Sperber, Dan, and Deirdre Wilson. [1986] 1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Sperber, Dan, and Deirdre Wilson. 2004. “Relevance Theory.” Handbook of Pragmatics. Ed. Laurence Horn, and Gregory Ward. Oxford: Blackwell. 607–632.
  • Sperber, Dan, Fabrice Clément, Christophe Heintz, Olivier Mascaro, Hugo Mercier, Gloria Origgi, and Deirdre Wilson. 2010. “Epistemic Vigilance.” Mind and Language 25.4: 359–393.
  • Stokke, Andreas. 2013. “Lying, Deceiving and Misleading.” Philosophy Compass 8.4: 348–359.
  • Stokke, Andreas. 2016. “Lying and Misleading in Discourse.” Philosophical Review 125.1: 83–134.
  • Williams, Bernard. 2002. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Wilson, Deirdre. 2011. “Understanding and Believing.” Paper presented at the Relevance Round Table, Warsaw, May 27.
  • Wilson, Deirdre, and Dan Sperber. 2002. “Truthfulness and Relevance.” Mind 111: 583–632.
  • Wilson, Deirdre, and Dan Sperber. 2012. Meaning and Relevance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.