Book review:

Full Title: Speech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law
Author / Editor: Seana Valentine Shiffrin
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2015

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Review © Metapsychology Vol. 21, No. 19
Reviewer: Bob Lane

Long before I studied philosophy my father taught me a profound lesson about speech. He was a proponent of the old observation that one should “say what you mean and mean what you say”. One day as he left for work he asked me, a boy of six, to pick up some trash from the back yard. “I will, Daddy!” said I with enthusiasm.

Upon returning that evening he asked if I had completed my chore. Having completely forgotten about my promise, I nevertheless responded “Oh, yes, Daddy!” not even considering that he would have seen the back yard when he drove his pickup into the back.

“Good boy,” he said. “go get your piggy bank and I will pay you for your work.” I got the piggy bank, sat on his lap, and he dropped two nickels into the bank. Each one seemed to shout “LIAR” as it landed in the ceramic pig.

I ran outside and did the cleanup I was supposed to have done during the day. Those coins dropping into that bank taught me that speech matters.

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