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Parents caught lying to the authorities to get their children into top state schools are to have their places automatically withdrawn under new guidelines. Fair enough. But what about politicians caught lying to the electorate—what will happen to them? With three pre-election debates between party leaders set to take place on national television, pledges will be coming from left, right and centre in the coming months. And a pledge is a kind of promise: something that the British philosopher of language John L Austin called an “illocutionary act.” If you say the words “I promise to do X,” Austin argued—or…

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