The Game You Are in: Misleading through Social Norms and What’s Wrong with It
This paper discusses the phenomenon of misleading about “the game you are in.” Individuals who mislead others in this way draw on the fact that we rely on social norms for regulating the levels of alertness, openness, and trust we use in different epistemic situations. By pretending to be in a certain game with a certain epistemic situation, they can entice others to reveal information or to exhibit low levels of alertness, thereby acting against their own interests. I delineate this phenomenon from direct lies and acts of misleading by implication, and discuss some variations of it. I then ask why and under what conditions it is morally wrong to mislead others about the game they are in. I distinguish three normative angles for understanding the phenomenon: deontological constraints, free-riding on a shared cultural infrastructure, and implicit discrimination against outsiders and atypical candidates. I conclude by briefly discussing some practical implications.
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