Skyrms on the possibility of universal deception

Don Fallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the Groundwork, Immanuel Kant famously argued that it would be self-defeating for everyone to follow a maxim of lying whenever it is to his or her advantage. In his recent book Signals, Brian Skyrms claims that Kant was wrong about the impossibility of universal deception. Skyrms argues that there are Lewisian signaling games in which the sender always sends a signal that deceives the receiver. I show here that these purportedly deceptive signals simply fail to make the receiver as epistemically well off as she could have been. Since the receiver is not actually misled, Kant would not have considered these games to be examples of deception, much less universal deception. However, I argue that there is an important sense of deception, endorsed by Roderick Chisholm and Thomas Feehan in their seminal work on the topic, under which Skyrms has shown that universal deception is possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-397
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Deception
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Lying
  • Signaling Games
  • Withholding Information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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