Definition of a Lie OR

Definition of a Lie OR


Definition of a Lie

A lie is a story that someone with a controlling interest in the story tells to make themselves look good and to make others look bad. Those controlling interests often include politicians, corporations, and religious institutions.



The confusion between the two words is largely due to the fact that lay is also the past tense form of this sense of lie, as in I lay in bed yesterday morning wishing I could go back to sleep. The other tenses of this sense of lie are lain, as in I have lain in bed for the past three hours, and lying, as in I am lying in bed right now. (In contrast, when lie is used as a verb meaning to tell an untruth, its past tense is simply lied.) (Source:

Questions central to the philosophical discussion of lying to others and other-deception (interpersonal deceiving) may be divided into two kinds. Questions of the first kind are definitional or conceptual. They include the questions of how lying is to be defined, how deceiving is to be defined, and whether lying is always a form of deceiving. Questions of the second kind are normative — more particularly, moral. They include the questions of whether lying and deceiving are either defeasibly or non-defeasibly morally wrong, whether lying is morally worse than deceiving, and whether, if lying and deception are defeasibly morally wrong, they are merely morally optional on certain occasions, or are sometimes morally obligatory. In this entry, we only consider questions of the first kind. (Source: plato.stanford.edu)


There is no universally accepted definition of lying to others. The dictionary definition of lying is “to make a false statement with the intention to deceive” (OED 1989) but there are numerous problems with this definition. It is both too narrow, since it requires falsity, and too broad, since it allows for lying about something other than what is being stated, and lying to someone who is believed to be listening in but who is not being addressed.

The most widely accepted definition of lying is the following: “A lie is a statement made by one who does not believe it with the intention that someone else shall be led to believe it” (Isenberg 1973, 248) (cf. “[lying is] making a statement believed to be false, with the intention of getting another to accept it as true” (Primoratz 1984, 54n2)). This definition does not specify the addressee, however. It may be restated as follows: (Source: plato.stanford.edu)



Related Articles