The Aristotelian Society

The Aristotelian Society

est. 1880

Symposium III

Language, Lies, and Logic

Roy Sorensen | Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | University of Edinburgh

Lucifer's Logic Lesson: How to Lie With Arguments

Roy Sorensen (Washington)


My thesis is that you can lie with `P therefore Q’ without P or Q being lies. For you can lie by virtue of not believing that P supports Q. My thesis is reconciled with the principle that all lies are assertions through H. P. Grice’s account of conventional implicatures. These semantic cousins of conversational implicatures are secondary assertions that clarify the speaker’s attitude toward his primary assertions. The meaning of `therefore’ commits the speaker to an entailment thesis even though the speaker does not enter that commitment into the text. Insincere conventional implicatures are akin to insincerely asserted footnotes. An absence of lies in the text is compatible with the presence of lies in the meta-text.


Roy Sorensen is a professor of philosophy at Washington University in Saint Louis. Previously, he taught at Dartmouth College, New York University, and the University of Delaware. Professor Sorensen is writing Lying without Deception. And A Brief History of Nothing. Since these two manuscripts are equally interesting, he has trouble completing either. Back in the days of mono-tasking, Sorensen completed seven books: A Cabinet of Philosophical Curiosities, A Brief History of the Paradox, Vagueness and Contradiction, Thought Experiments, Pseudo-Problems, Blindspots and Seeing Dark Things. His favorite color is black.

Andreas Stokke | Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | University of Edinburgh

Conventional Implicature, Presupposition, and Lying

Andreas Stokke (Uppsala)


Responding to parts of Sorensen, it is argued that the connectives therefore and but do not contribute conventional implicatures but are rather to be treated as presupposition triggers. Their special contributions are therefore not asserted, but presupposed. Hence, given the generic assumption that one lies only if one makes an assertion, one cannot lie with arguments in the way Sorensen proposes. Yet, since conventional implicatures are asserted, one can lie with conventional implicatures. Moreover, since conventional implicatures may be asserted by non-declarative utterances, one can lie by uttering non-declaratives carrying conventional implicatures.


Andreas Stokke did his undergraduate work at the University of Copenhagen. After graduating, he pursued his postgraduate studies at the University of St Andrews, where he received an MLitt degree in 2006 and a Ph.D. in 2010. After completing his doctoral studies, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oslo and subsequently at the University of Lisbon. In 2013 he took up a position as University Lecturer at Umeå University, Sweden. Since July 2016 he has been a Pro Futura Scientia Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies, nominated by Uppsala University, Sweden. His research is mainly in the fields of philosophy of language and epistemology, but he has also worked on ethics and philosophy of action. Stokke has published on semantics and pragmatics and is currently working on lying, deception, and insincere speech more generally.

further info


University of Edinburgh

14-16 July 2017

School of Philosophy
Psychology and Language Sciences
Dugald Stewart Building
3 Charles Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AD

Local Organiser: Aidan McGlynn

Programme edited by Guy Longworth (Warwick)

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The 2016 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | Cardiff University

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