This is an invited extensive (72 page-length) contribution to the Thematic A-Z section of the Handbook of Pragmatics (Verschueren et al. eds., - Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins). It is the author’s second invited contribution on the topic of Truthfulness to the Handbook. The first appeared in the 2003 installment of the Handbook, this the second, is an updated or ‘revised’ contribution for the 2006 installment. It is divided into 10 sections, with detailed end-notes and an extensive 13 page-long bibliography. The Section titles or headings provide some indication of the scope of the encyclopaedic treatment of the subject and the specific issues dealt with. After Section 1, a ‘Foreword’ on the problems for the researcher posed by the ambiguity and polysemy of the term in lay (English) use and across academic disciplines, as well as by the morally and affectively ‘loaded’ issues involved, Section 2, ‘an introduction to the issues and engagements in the field’, distinguishes, in the various disciplines, between the methodological and theoretical focus on truthfulness as an underlying principle for understanding meaning and the focus on truthfulness as truth-telling (as opposed to deception) from descriptive and/or ethical perspectives. It continues with an overview of the treatment, of both uses of the term ‘truthfulness’, within pragmatics. , i.e. first within theoretical pragmatics and philosophy then in descriptive and socially engaged societal pragmatics, critical discourse analysis and its relevance to cross-cultural or contrastive pragmatics. The section continues further (2.3) with mapping out the philosophical precursors to pragmatics who tackled the issues (especially those concerning tacit underlying principles for understanding and coordination, continuing (2.4) with more recent (post-Gricean) developments in pragmatics. Section 3 attempts some detailed concept clarification of classification parameters for distinguishing between types of truthfulness and non-truthfulness (a ‘deconstruction’ based on intentionality of mis/representation, separated from intent to deceive), then a brief speculation on the different ways Gricean maxims may be not-observed (by flouting, violating, opting out, suspending, infringing) and thus generate the different types of non-truthfulness, a ‘denouncement’ to the ‘terminological vice-squad’ of the confusing and not always coherent uses of the terminology, even in pragmatics. Neutral types with respect to intentionality of misrepresentation and of intent to deceive, are also introduced, for example, physiological misrepresentation (vagueness, indeterminacy, underspecification, etc), light talk, talk in non-truth-relevant-contexts, etc. Intentionally non-truthful talk, on the other hand, can be overt or covert, intentionally non-deceptive or intentionally deceptive. Section 4, ‘Truthfulness and Language – physiological non-truthfulness, non-deceptively intent non-truthfulness’, explores in particular the types of non-truthfulness inherent in the nature of language (indeterminacy, vagueness (4.1); figurative uses of language (4.2) ; open-endedness, indirectness, ambiguity (4.3), etc) , the meanings and truth of language is (usually successfully and non-problematically) fleshed out in context by speakers in intra-cultural communication; the location of truth on various levels of meaning, from literal to explicatures and/or implicatures is, as is well-known, a question of debate in theoretical pragmatics. It is not merely of theoretical interest, however, but also of practical or ‘political’ interest for cross-cultural communication because of the below-consciousness of one’s language/discourse world’s assumed ‘right’ place to assign truth values and judge the ‘rightness’ of discourse styles. Section 5, ‘Truthfulness and Talk: Is truthfulness always relevant to talk? Is sincerity always expected?’, explores the notion that different contexts, intra-culturally as well as, naturally, cross-culturally, would be either truth-relevant or non-truth relevant (recalling Eve Sweetser’s 1987 discussion). Reference is made to the (still sparse) cultural anthropological and ethnolinguistic literature on truth in talk (e.g. Rosaldo, Duranti, Moerman) also variously critiquing universalising assumptions of sincerity conditions in speech act theory, and also applied by the author to some talk contexts in traditional Naples. Section 6 asks ‘is truthfulness necessary for cooperation?’, tackling the truthfulness as an underlying principle for understanding and for social order issue head on, reviewing the main debates and authors to be found in the pragmatics and philosophical literatures. Section 7 turns to deception and lying, the covert, intentionally deceptive type of untruthfulness, mapping out the various parameters and types of classifications to be found in the literatures of types of lying and deception – direct and indirect- ( based on parameters ranging from medium used, type of cognitive or linguistic strategy, type of effect on the information or mode of information manipulation, speakers’ goals, motivations, effects on victims, etc.) and providing an exhaustive and useful orientation and clarification of concepts and pointing to extensive bibliographical sources (including the seminal work carried out by authors Castelfranchi, Poggi, also in collaboration with the present author, on ‘how to lie while saying the truth’). Section 8, reviews moral issues, touching, for example, also on the varying perceptions of the seriousness or immorality of different types of lying and deception, within and across cultures, and philosophers, in particular that of direct vs indirect lying, between deceiving ‘by commission’ or ‘by omission’. Section 9, though listing topics not discussed in the body of the article (dealing as it does with ‘truthfulness’ for and in pragmatics) constitutes an annotated bibliography of many other topics dealing with deception, in particular, ranging for example, from military deception, religious views, research on gender differences, deception detection, neurological research, deception in English and other literatures, art, academia, etc, etc. Section 10, the valediction, reminds readers of the difficulty of guaranteeing accuracy of representation.

Truthfulness (revision)

VINCENT, Jocelyne Mary
2006

Abstract

This is an invited extensive (72 page-length) contribution to the Thematic A-Z section of the Handbook of Pragmatics (Verschueren et al. eds., - Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins). It is the author’s second invited contribution on the topic of Truthfulness to the Handbook. The first appeared in the 2003 installment of the Handbook, this the second, is an updated or ‘revised’ contribution for the 2006 installment. It is divided into 10 sections, with detailed end-notes and an extensive 13 page-long bibliography. The Section titles or headings provide some indication of the scope of the encyclopaedic treatment of the subject and the specific issues dealt with. After Section 1, a ‘Foreword’ on the problems for the researcher posed by the ambiguity and polysemy of the term in lay (English) use and across academic disciplines, as well as by the morally and affectively ‘loaded’ issues involved, Section 2, ‘an introduction to the issues and engagements in the field’, distinguishes, in the various disciplines, between the methodological and theoretical focus on truthfulness as an underlying principle for understanding meaning and the focus on truthfulness as truth-telling (as opposed to deception) from descriptive and/or ethical perspectives. It continues with an overview of the treatment, of both uses of the term ‘truthfulness’, within pragmatics. , i.e. first within theoretical pragmatics and philosophy then in descriptive and socially engaged societal pragmatics, critical discourse analysis and its relevance to cross-cultural or contrastive pragmatics. The section continues further (2.3) with mapping out the philosophical precursors to pragmatics who tackled the issues (especially those concerning tacit underlying principles for understanding and coordination, continuing (2.4) with more recent (post-Gricean) developments in pragmatics. Section 3 attempts some detailed concept clarification of classification parameters for distinguishing between types of truthfulness and non-truthfulness (a ‘deconstruction’ based on intentionality of mis/representation, separated from intent to deceive), then a brief speculation on the different ways Gricean maxims may be not-observed (by flouting, violating, opting out, suspending, infringing) and thus generate the different types of non-truthfulness, a ‘denouncement’ to the ‘terminological vice-squad’ of the confusing and not always coherent uses of the terminology, even in pragmatics. Neutral types with respect to intentionality of misrepresentation and of intent to deceive, are also introduced, for example, physiological misrepresentation (vagueness, indeterminacy, underspecification, etc), light talk, talk in non-truth-relevant-contexts, etc. Intentionally non-truthful talk, on the other hand, can be overt or covert, intentionally non-deceptive or intentionally deceptive. Section 4, ‘Truthfulness and Language – physiological non-truthfulness, non-deceptively intent non-truthfulness’, explores in particular the types of non-truthfulness inherent in the nature of language (indeterminacy, vagueness (4.1); figurative uses of language (4.2) ; open-endedness, indirectness, ambiguity (4.3), etc) , the meanings and truth of language is (usually successfully and non-problematically) fleshed out in context by speakers in intra-cultural communication; the location of truth on various levels of meaning, from literal to explicatures and/or implicatures is, as is well-known, a question of debate in theoretical pragmatics. It is not merely of theoretical interest, however, but also of practical or ‘political’ interest for cross-cultural communication because of the below-consciousness of one’s language/discourse world’s assumed ‘right’ place to assign truth values and judge the ‘rightness’ of discourse styles. Section 5, ‘Truthfulness and Talk: Is truthfulness always relevant to talk? Is sincerity always expected?’, explores the notion that different contexts, intra-culturally as well as, naturally, cross-culturally, would be either truth-relevant or non-truth relevant (recalling Eve Sweetser’s 1987 discussion). Reference is made to the (still sparse) cultural anthropological and ethnolinguistic literature on truth in talk (e.g. Rosaldo, Duranti, Moerman) also variously critiquing universalising assumptions of sincerity conditions in speech act theory, and also applied by the author to some talk contexts in traditional Naples. Section 6 asks ‘is truthfulness necessary for cooperation?’, tackling the truthfulness as an underlying principle for understanding and for social order issue head on, reviewing the main debates and authors to be found in the pragmatics and philosophical literatures. Section 7 turns to deception and lying, the covert, intentionally deceptive type of untruthfulness, mapping out the various parameters and types of classifications to be found in the literatures of types of lying and deception – direct and indirect- ( based on parameters ranging from medium used, type of cognitive or linguistic strategy, type of effect on the information or mode of information manipulation, speakers’ goals, motivations, effects on victims, etc.) and providing an exhaustive and useful orientation and clarification of concepts and pointing to extensive bibliographical sources (including the seminal work carried out by authors Castelfranchi, Poggi, also in collaboration with the present author, on ‘how to lie while saying the truth’). Section 8, reviews moral issues, touching, for example, also on the varying perceptions of the seriousness or immorality of different types of lying and deception, within and across cultures, and philosophers, in particular that of direct vs indirect lying, between deceiving ‘by commission’ or ‘by omission’. Section 9, though listing topics not discussed in the body of the article (dealing as it does with ‘truthfulness’ for and in pragmatics) constitutes an annotated bibliography of many other topics dealing with deception, in particular, ranging for example, from military deception, religious views, research on gender differences, deception detection, neurological research, deception in English and other literatures, art, academia, etc, etc. Section 10, the valediction, reminds readers of the difficulty of guaranteeing accuracy of representation.
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