Can a question be a lie? An empirical investigation
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Description: Can a question be a lie? Theorists in the debate on how to define lying tend to answer this question negatively. They hold that questions can be misleading, but that they cannot be lies. The aim of this paper is to show that ordinary speakers disagree. With the help of three experiments, we show that ordinary speakers judge certain insincere questions to be lies. These judgements are robust and remain so when the participants are given the possibility of classifying the questions as misleading or deceiving without being a lie. Judgements about insincere questions pattern with judgements participants make about declarative lies. And they contrast with judgements participants give about prototypical cases of misleading or deceptive behaviour.