Mendacity as a Virtue, Lying in Politics.

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Key Takeaways

  • Lawyers’ Ethical Obligations: American lawyers navigate deception nuances, ethical responsibilities, and legal frameworks.
  • Philosophical Perspectives: Examining political lying through philosophers like Plato, St. Augustine, and Hannah Arendt.
  • American Lawyers’ Role: Lawyers combat political dishonesty, safeguarding democratic principles and transparency.
  • Intellectual Exploration: Book delves into mendacity, politics, trust, and democracy’s complex interplay.
  • Critical Reviews: Jay’s book serves as a definitive reference on deception and lying, essential for deep understanding.

Mendacity: American lawyers must become familiar with the nuances, forms, and mechanisms of deception. There are specific ethical requirements that all lawyers and law firms must advise their clients about. Lawyers owe professional honesty to their clients and tribunals in particular. This insight is then applied to a wide variety of circumstances and topics, like lying in politics and other social interactions, he concludes.

The Virtues of Mendacity:

Jay avoids the customary phrasing of the discussion in The Virtues of Mendacity by looking at the reasoning pro and con political lying in Plato and St. Augustine’s works, Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss. For the rest of his argument, he uses an idea of the political realm to show that each philosopher’s perspective affects how they view ideological disingenuousness.

Compare politics with mendacity:

Some people believe that “politics” is a place where dishonesty and deceit are typical and expected. However, Jay argues that this thinking is illogical because lying necessitates violating norms that demand honesty in speech. It suggests that political honesty and truthfulness expectations differ from country to country according to conventional norms and expectations. In Jay’s opinion, the American way of life is particularly hostile to Machiavellian deceit.

American lawyers are well-versed in the concepts of truthfulness and falsity. They are taught about these topics in law school, and understanding them is required in nearly every practice area. Because so much of the law prohibits lying, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, and more, legal obligations are placed on American lawyers in the current political climate because of their professional status and familiarity with truthfulness and untruthfulness

Joe Isuzu of American politics:

Calling George the “Joe Isuzu of American politics,” Michael Dukakis invoked the near-ancient notion that lying and politics are inseparable or at the very least interconnected. It was a particularly American tone. According to renowned intellectual historian Martin Jay, our reaction to this phenomenon is to pause between moral outrage and amoral realism, which is often futile.

About book’s author:

The book’s author, a well-known intellectual historian, is behind it. The bulk of the book is an expository history. While Jay does not go into great detail defending his views, he makes numerous brief observations and criticisms of the views he discusses. Throughout the book’s first section, the author takes a broad look at how people in the western intellectual tradition view lying.

High-ranking officials deny:

High-ranking officials deny the basics of science, and government departments hide or remove information from their websites because of the prevalence of misdirection and disinformation on social media. The current U.S. President is a well-known serial dissembler. Mendacity, evasion, and deception in service of power can find just about anywhere. American lawyers should be on the lookout for exposing and explaining dishonest behavior when the stakes are this high.

The current onslaught of political dishonesty:

A lawyer’s job is to protect society from the current onslaught of political dishonesty. A government that is democratically accountable while also being responsible is impossible without a high level of honesty. Every citizen must strive and demand truthfulness in politics. Still, Americans’ constitutional lawyers must pay special attention to and care for the American constitutional system, marshaling their expertise for the cause of truthfulness.

Mendacity as a Virtue: Lying in Politics:

Jay has the following to say about “the political,” Carl Schmitt claimed that it is a realm “distinct from mere politics and irreducible to other spheres of human endeavor,” and the second part of the book surveys work in the continental tradition on this concept.

To what person’s benefit is this standard being used?

This doubt plagues utilitarian and consequentialist arguments. Nonetheless, this isn’t a difficult decision-making circumstance to be in. In all standard utilitarianism/consequentialism formulations, everyone’s interests are considered and weighted the same way. Furthermore, there are severe issues about defining the standard of utility/usefulness, welfare and happiness, and measuring and comparing the well-being of different individuals, as Jay points out. Those, however, are distinct issues.

Jay’s discussion of the political:

There isn’t much in Jay’s discussion of “the political” that sheds light on the problem of politicians lying. As a result, the novel lacks cohesion. In terms of intellectual history, only the first and third sections of the book are worthwhile. If you’re interested in learning more about lying, this book has plenty of resources for you. Though the length of Jay’s book hinders the depth of his argumentation and analysis, the idea


Lies and politics have been central themes in numerous works, and in some cases, the two have been explored together. The only person to come close is Jay. Even though Plato is thoroughly reviewed, writings on mendacity and then literature on “the political” is examined, leading to an all-out showdown. It could be Jay’s best book yet. The book will undoubtedly become a standard reference for anyone interested in delving deeply into the subject of deception and lying.

Rupert P. Wallace:

A significant roadblock to intelligence is trust, and trust could significantly reduce if people were given information about common types of deception. Credulity has never been a greater evil than it is today because education has made it much easier to spread misinformation than it used to be and because democracy has made the spread of misinformation more critical than it used to be for those in power.

Conway, George:

It’s so frustrating to see the dishonesty and incompetence in action. The tweeting was merely a means for me to get it out of the way and move on with my day. That’s all there is to it because I’d instead not yell at her about it.

Effect on reader’s mind:

Jay gives no rationale as to why these people are dishonest about their actions. He shouldn’t assume that the reader already knows this. Readers expecting in-depth analyses of specific instances of political lying will be let down by this book.


Finally, he muses aloud on the subject of political dishonesty’s gravity. Many people in the United States condemn political hypocrisy. Still, Jay considers this the best option available to a justified conflict of those who believe they know what is going on.

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  • Sehrish Kiran

    With years of experience in research and writing, I have honed my skills to provide valuable insights and captivating content. My journey through different fields and topics has equipped me with a well-rounded perspective that enriches my articles.

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