I think that in this context, what matters, what is salient in the communication, is that Alister---the guy registered for my class---is almost finished with the paper. That this guy is finished with the paper is not relevant. This suggests that there is no lie. But I am not sure.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
First person pronouns and lying
Suppose that I have Alister, who is an identical twin of Bob, registered in my class. One day, Alister is not feeling well, but knowing about Baylor's absence policy, he asks Bob to attend in his place, and while he's there to tell me, quite correctly, that the term paper that Alister is working on is almost finished. So, Bob comes class, and at the end says to me: "I'm almost finished with the paper for you." Bob is deceiving me by pretending to be Alister. But is he telling a truth or a falsehood at the end? That depends on what the referent of "I" is. If the referent is Bob, then Bob is telling me something false, but if the referent is Alister, then Bob is telling me something true. I take the referent to be Alister, and Bob expects me to take the referent to be Alister. I form the belief that Alister is almost finished with his paper for me, which is true. On the other hand, I also take the referent to be this man, and Bob expects me to do so. I also form the belief that this man is almost finished with his paper for me, which is false.