What are lies, ponders Lars Svendsen, why do we lie to our friends and why do politicians lie to us? What is the difference between lies and similar phenomena, like truthiness and bullshitting? What is the ethics of lying and how to live in a lying society?

Philosophy of Lying, this Norwegian philosopher’s latest book, tries to answer these and many other questions about a phenomenon as old as mankind, especially focusing on political lies, from Plato’s theory of the “noble lie” all the way to lying à la Donald Trump.

Although phrases such as “fake news” and “alternative facts” are becoming ever more prevalent, Svendsen’s conclusion is surprising: despite the fact that we all sometimes lie, most of the time we are truthful. Trust in others makes us vulnerable and will from time to time at least cost us our pride, but we still choose honesty and vulnerability over life in constant doubt.

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We have a moral duty to strive to be truthful, both to others and to ourselves. What’s most important is not the truth, because the truth is beyond our control. It is only because truth doesn’t conform to our will and desires that it exists at all. On the other hand, truthfulness is something we can to a far greater extent make into the object of our will. You do not need an advanced theory about truth to fulfil the two virtues of truth: sincerity and accuracy. It is enough for you to say how you believe something to be, and that you make a reasonable effort to check that it really is that way. It is something all of us should be able to do, but in practice we all fall short from time to time.

Lars Svendsen

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Lars Fr. H. Svendsen (1970) is a Norwegian professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Bergen. He received several international awards and his books were translated into 25 languages. His most famous books are Kjedsomhetens filosofi (1999), Ondskapens filosofi (2001), Frykt (2007), Ensomhetens filosofi (2017) and Å forstå dyr. Filosofi for hunde – og katteelskere (2018).

Løgnens filosofi is this famous Norwegian author’s tenth book translated and published by TIM press.

  • ISBN: 978-953-369-001-8
  • Cover: paperback
  • Original title: Løgnens filosofi
  • Original language: Norwegian
  • Translation: Mišo Grundler
  • Year of the edition: 2021
  • Number of pages: 136
  • Dimensions: 115×185