An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Deception and Telling Lies

12 Pages Posted: 25 May 2010 Last revised: 3 Jun 2010

Date Written: May 23, 2010


A lie is an expression at deviance with the truth known or honestly believed by someone with an intention to deceive others for certain purpose, social or personal. An ability to lie might be evolutionary in nature possibly to help in survival, since it is found in the non-human world also. In the biological perspective, each individual is at war against all others. Thus viewed, lies are the cardinal virtues for survival and, by implication, the carriers of evolution. In the human world, lying is morally blameworthy in a relatively un-obscure way. There may be cases of lying to which it may be difficult to take up a definite moral attitude. Certain types of lies might be morally acceptable and socially beneficial since they may block the otherwise (most damaging) global optimum solution of a negative sum game, while other types of lies are ethically and socially deplorable as they might block the optimal solution of a cooperative game. This must be judged pragmatically with the overall social welfare that they entail or produce.

Keywords: Lies, morality, economics of lies, Taxonomy, survival, evolution, information asymmetry

JEL Classification: A13, C70, D82, Z10

Suggested Citation

Mishra, Sudhanshu K., An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Deception and Telling Lies (May 23, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Sudhanshu K. Mishra (Contact Author)

North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) ( email )

NEHU Campus
Shillong, 793022
03642550102 (Phone)


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