Let's say someone states that if party A wins the elections, they will start killing opponents. Of course, let's say there is absolutely no evidence that support that claim and in a debate I state that they are plainly lying and that it is OK that the social media tag it as a lie.

But then, as part of the debate, someone states that they cannot be lying because they are talking about the future, something that still has not happened, and even if there is little chances it happens, he won't be lying until the moment happens and either they were right or wrong. This doesn't make any sense to me, as it is also possible to state undetermined future assertations and they would never be a lie. "One day will come when the unicorns will take over humanity" or some other silly examples, following that logic, couldn't never be a lie.

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    See Future Contingents. May 29, 2020 at 18:31
  • If today there is no truth value of an assertion about tomorrow, we cannot say that the person asserting it is lying (telling the false). If today there is a determined (but unknown) truth value of it, then we cannot say that the person asserting it is lying until tomorrow. May 29, 2020 at 18:48
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    @MauroALLEGRANZA Does a lie have to be actually false? Not sure about that. Many philosophers, starting with Augustine, think that a lie is a statement that is believed to be false and intended to deceive the hearer.
    – Eliran
    May 29, 2020 at 21:07
  • I agree with @Eliran, the question is not whether the claim is, or can be, true but whether it is believed to be true. It is likely that some saying this do believe it. Then they are not lying, they are simply reporting their belief. But most commonly they do not care if it is true, then again they are not lying but bullshitting, as Frankfurt calls it. It is an interesting issue how a statement without truth value can be believed or disbelieved, but we surely routinely form beliefs about the future and hence can lie about them, so the objection from lack of truth values is disingenuous.
    – Conifold
    May 30, 2020 at 10:17
  • If someone states an intention and this is not their intention then they are lying. If it is their intention then they are telling the truth about their intention, yet not truth about the actual future event. Anyone lacking omnipotence cannot possibly tell the 100% perfect truth about any future event.
    – polcott
    May 30, 2020 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


It is fairly common, though far from universal, to treat claims about future events as neither true nor false until they happen. A claim about a future event is a prediction, not a statement. If I claim that A will win the upcoming election, anyone would understand me as making a prediction about the outcome of the election. If my prediction proves wrong it doesn't follow that I was lying; maybe I just misread the situation, or had bad data, or I'm just not good at making predictions.

A person is conventionally understood to be lying if they make a statement they know to be false, or at least have good reason to believe is false, with the intention to deceive. Thus predictions are not lies as such, unless perhaps they are made in bad faith with a view to deception.

If somebody claims, "if party A wins the election they will kill opponents", this could reasonably be challenged by asking what grounds they have for such a claim. If they have none, then the claim is spurious. Maybe you need a tag for spurious or ungrounded claims, as opposed to lies.

The more difficult cases to judge are where a claim has some plausibility, but the degree of supporting evidence is subject to dispute. If the claim had been: "if party A wins the election, there is a serious risk they will abuse their power by killing opponents," this might be more plausible, though it is still in need of justification.

  • I think the OP type claims are most commonly made in bad faith, and the purpose is manipulation of the audience ("scare tactics"), so I would not group them with conventional predictions. I also suspect that some such speakers actually do work from a prediction, which falls far short of what they claim, and then intentionally exaggerate, i.e. they are lying. And this is how one can lie about the future generally: they can believe that some aspect of the future is already settled (by current state and laws of nature, say) and say the opposite.
    – Conifold
    May 30, 2020 at 10:39
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    Yes, I would agree with that. We would say that a doctor was lying if she told a patient he was going to recover when in fact the doctor is pretty sure the condition is terminal. If bad faith and deception are involved then the lying label is appropriate.
    – Bumble
    May 30, 2020 at 23:11

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