What does it mean to tell a lie?
It was recently brought to my attention how mixed our intuitions are here.
Here are five possibilities:
1. To utter something that is false.
2. To utter something that the speaker believes is false (but it is true).
3. To utter something that conversationally implicates something that is false.
4. To utter something that conversationally implicates something that the speaker believes is false (but it is not).
5. To utter something that the speaker believes will conversationally implicate something that is false (but it does not).
The parenthetical remarks are to clarify and distinguish the five possibilities.
To explicate what I mean by 'conversationally implicates' I will give an example from my childhood. My parents would often ask me if I had washed my hands or brushed my teeth. Often, I would answer, 'Yes, I brushed my teeth.' knowing that this would implicate that I had done so on the day in question -- though I explicitly uttered no such thing.
So where are your intuitions? I have a strong intuition to accepting (1), but it is difficult to accuse some one who accidentally utters a falsehood as a liar. I think that this can be accounted for by appealing to something like secondary norms: that speaker is to be praised in a sense since she was trying to follow the relevant norm of not lying. Perhaps this secondary sense of following a norm is even more important than actually complying with the primary norm -- actually not telling a lie.