Was Machiavelli Right? Lying in Negotiation and the Art of Defensive Self-Help

54 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2008 Last revised: 3 Sep 2016

See all articles by Peter Reilly

Peter Reilly

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: October 7, 2008


The majority of law review articles addressing lying and deception in negotiation have argued, in one form or another, that liars and deceivers could be successfully reined in and controlled if only the applicable ethics rules were strengthened, and if corresponding enforcement powers were sufficiently beefed up and effectively executed. This article takes a different approach, arguing that the applicable ethics rules will likely never be strengthened, and, furthermore, that even if they were, they would be difficult to enforce in any meaningful way, at least in the context of negotiation. The article concludes that lawyers, businesspeople, and everyone else who engages in negotiation should learn how to carefully and purposefully implement mindsets, strategies, and tactics to defend themselves against others who lie and deceive. The article sets forth those defensive devices and offers prescriptive advice for minimizing one's risk of being exploited in a negotiation should other parties lie.

Keywords: negotiation, lying, ethics, deceit, heuristics

JEL Classification: K12, K31, K41

Suggested Citation

Reilly, Peter, Was Machiavelli Right? Lying in Negotiation and the Art of Defensive Self-Help (October 7, 2008). 24 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 481 (2009) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1280465

Peter Reilly (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102

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