2
   

what justifies a lie?

 
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2011 04:13 pm
@JLNobody,
Perhaps some lies are justified when their corresponding truths will cause unjustified harm.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2011 07:50 pm
@vikorr,
There is an enormous flaw in your argument.

Because someone lies doesn't invalidate their belief that lies are not justifiable.

vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 12:34 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
JLNobody wrote:
Wouldn't you say that a major difference is that people know when they are lying to others but not when they are lying to themselves?
Hi JL - this can happen, but it's not always the case that a person consciously 'knows' they are lying to another. I have often seen people who deceive themselves - they repeat the lie to themselves until they 'believe' it, and in that 'belief', repeat that same deception to others.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
There is an enormous flaw in your argument.

Because someone lies doesn't invalidate their belief that lies are not justifiable.
Hi Finn - I didn't say it does. What I said was :
Quote:
This is what I meant. Many people think 'it is flat out wrong to lie'. These same people lie to themselves frequently, and to others most likely daily -never looking at either the hypocrisy, or the why.

The point of this comment is that before people pass judgement that it is flat out wrong to lie - they should look at and understand the reasons why they lie to both themselves, and to others...doing so may then lead to them gaining a better understanding of themselves, a better understanding of others, a more informed view, and perhaps even a different view.

I then followed that by this - which is in response to someones ascertations about conscience.
Quote:
People ask about the justification, and conscience, but I would say that consequence is much more relevant to ones conscience than justification is to an ideal.


Essentially, people who say 'there is never any reason to lie' are willing to cause damage to others in order to not lie, claiming a higher good.

Let me put this to you. You are a long term family friend of a couple that have a marriage breakdown, and the wife flees to your house. The 'husband' kicks the door in, pumps a shotgun and waves it in the air screaming at you 'Where is my wife. I know you know, so if you don't tell me, I'll kill you'...do you say '2nd bedroom on the right'...or is it okay to say 'she hasn't told me where she's staying, only that it's at a refuge'.

Or another breakup scenario - you're best friends with a couple. The wife leaves and tells you one of the major problems was 'he's a lousy lover, too small, and never lasts long enough...and truth to tell, I've always really fancied you'. The husband later says 'I'm glad to have you as my friend. No one else seems to understand what I'm going through. It doesn't make any sense, the reasons she gave me. Did she tell you why she left?' Do you tell your best friend that she did tell you, and the reasons she gave?

The point being - saying the 'truth' can have negative consequences. The argument that exists over justification is an argument of positive vs negative. Can a blanket 'the positives will always outweigh the negatives' exist in all circumstances, where almost everything in life seems to have an exception to the rule? And should we be held to a blind ideal of 'it's just bad to lie' - which would make the ideal itself the justification (which is a plain silly way to justify something)...or should a decision be made from the best of our conscience after considering the good and bad outcomes of whatever path we choose?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 03:05 pm
@vikorr,
Hello vikorr

Actually you did, but you're trying to dance around the flaw.

Why would you suggest such people think about anything if you didn't think their position was wrong and that self- awareness would lead to tolerance?

We all lie from time to time. This fact combined with a belief that lying is always wrong hardly indicates hypocrisy.

If I insisted that lying was always bad, and then immediately lied, I wouldn't be a hypocrite. I would be weak in comparison to my own standard, but hypocrisy only enters the picture if I catigate a liar without castigating myself.

vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2011 10:50 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
Actually you did, but you're trying to dance around the flaw.
Hi Finn. No, I did not...and nor am I dancing around the 'problem'.

You can't legitimately talk about what justifies a lie with a person who holds the position of 'it's always wrong to lie' when they themselves lie frequently - but if they never lie, then you can hold such a conversation. You can't do this with someone who lies frequently (or at all, due to the nature of the statement) because they lack understanding of the 'why' that leads to a thoughtful, empathic, credible and consistent coversation.

The question 'what justifies a lie' will be answered based on a principle. The principle itself should be immutable - but a person who doesn't even comprehend his/her own need to lie will not be able to see it.

You also can't hold a credible conversation about what justify's a lie with a person who says 'it's wrong to lie because it just is wrong to lie' - that's a self reinforcing response with no justification involved. And technically, such a belief would cause that person to ignore all consequences of telling either the truth or a lie, meaning that persons conscience isn't engaged in the effect on others.

Quote:
Because someone lies doesn't invalidate their belief that lies are not justifiable.
Correct. And again I didn't say this. I personally don't think it's valid, and I think people that think this need to look at themselves a bit more, but :
- there is a difference between what I think is valid for me, and what is valid for others; and
- there is a difference between saying (a blanket statement of) 'this is not valid' and saying 'some parts of this are not valid, while other parts are'

Do you see what I am saying about personal validity?

Quote:
We all lie from time to time. This fact combined with a belief that lying is always wrong hardly indicates hypocrisy.
For the vast majority of people it is not a 'lie from time to time' but an occurrence multiple times daily.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Jun, 2011 03:03 pm
So a question implicit in much of this thread is whether or not being truthful is an ABSOLUTE value, regardless of the utilitarian complications of telling truths (sometimes with negative consequences) and telling lies (sometimes with positive consequences). This complexity is why I like situational ethics more than absolute morality.
0 Replies
 
hamilton
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2011 01:07 pm
@vikorr,
that would depend on the existence of a lie.
for the existence of a lie, there must be the existence of truth.
have you seen this topic?
http://able2know.org/topic/162574-1
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2011 03:03 pm
@vikorr,
Because someone is, themself, guilty of lying don't mean that they cannot understand the act or form an opinion as to its morality.

I don't understand why you think an absolutist who lies cannot credibly believe in absolutism and discuss the practice and its morality.

You seem to suggest that a person who lies cannot believe in absolutism or is disqualified from discussing it.

I can understand why you might find it annoying to listen to a liar preach to you on the immorality of lying, but stating an opinion or belief and preaching are two entirely different things.

Presumably you are of the opinion that one cannot discuss vice unless one is free of it, or makes no moral judgments concerning it. This is quite a narrow minded approach, and totally ignores the fact that people do things they know are wrong.

I think I prefer the person who acknowledges lying is bad and admits to practicing it, then the one who admits to lying but thinks its morally neutral.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2011 05:05 pm
@hamilton,
Lies are are simply when one expresses something that goes against ones own view of what is true. Truth itself is more problematic.
0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2011 05:14 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
I don't understand why you think an absolutist who lies cannot credibly believe in absolutism and discuss the practice and its morality.


Finn - you somewhat mistake my point again.

I'm not sure what is unclear about what I am talking about, which has two major points :

- the first being the inherent problems in absolutists understanding why they (and thereby some of why other people) lie. How they can comprehend why they lie and still hold to an absolutist theory?

For example, the 'excuse' when one Lies that it is about them beng 'weak'. That is like a physically weak man saying 'I can't lift what you can because I am weaker than you'...when what he means is 'I can't lift what you can because I don't put the effort/work into body building that you do' (ie. the 'weakness' is a generically described symptom of the real underlying problem, not the problem itself). The mind and lies, are of course, much more complicated than that example, but it is a simplified example of the type of understanding I am talking about.

- the second being, absolutists by their very claim must ignore the dire consequences that the truth will sometimes have. Yet they claim conscience as being the reason for their viewpoint. Any absolutist is welcome to go back to the scenario questions I threw and see where we go from there. Until they are willing to discuss consequences , what is the point of talking about 'justification' with them?

As a further to that last point - in the end, all moral issues are about consequences, so a person claiming an absolute moral that doesn't wish to discuss consequences is problematic to have a conversation with.
0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2011 05:35 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
I think I prefer the person who acknowledges lying is bad and admits to practicing it, then the one who admits to lying but thinks its morally neutral.
The problem I think, is that you aren't thinking about consequences.

Why is saving someone from unecessary hurt bad? Why is preventing friendships from being destroyed bad?

Why do people who believe in the moral absolute (of not lying) engage in deception so much? I've always found deception to have the more profound effect of the two (lies or deception)

Why when people who believe in the absolute lie, do they then try and justify it to themselves (rather than having thought about the consequences first, and made the best decision they can)

By the way - I'm spent the last few years looking at the 'why', and understandiing to who am. I try never to lie to myself, and I try never to lie to others. The more I've understood, the less I've lied. I now recognise signs of 'discomfort' (a mild form of fear) and negotiate those away - so I no longer have to make up excuses (ie lies) for my inner behaviour. As that happens, your life comes more into line, and you feel a lesser need to lie to others. Things about yourself become clearer, and so too then, do your responses. I find an absolutist view needlessly judgemental, and quite unhelpful in the development of peoples lives. A look at the why's, an understanding of the motivating factors, and an understanding of the consequences is much more beneficial in the long run, to peoples happiness.
hamilton
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jun, 2011 04:16 pm
@vikorr,
in that case, happiness is a lie.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jun, 2011 04:50 pm
@hamilton,
Most people see what they want to see, rather than what is before them. If you look at the whole of what I've said (again) - I am talking about understanding, about knowing yourself, and using that understanding and knowledge to better yourself, and to have greater empathy for others. I have been talking about thinking about consequences for both you and for others, before you make a decision, and then making the best decision possible.

What you saw otherwise, and your response is largely influenced by your own personal paradigms, rather than what is, and misses the point of what I've been saying.

It's amazing that people can see such a topic as isolated statements, rather than as a working whole...none of the many multiple components work in isolation - it is a system, and without understanding of the system, it is unlikely that we will ever work out how to make it truly work and grow for us at our own direction.
hamilton
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jun, 2011 06:40 pm
@vikorr,
how we interpret things can lead to unintentional lies, then.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jun, 2011 07:07 pm
@vikorr,
vikorr wrote:

Quote:
I think I prefer the person who acknowledges lying is bad and admits to practicing it, then the one who admits to lying but thinks its morally neutral.
The problem I think, is that you aren't thinking about consequences.

Perhaps, but I don't think so.

Why is saving someone from unecessary hurt bad? Why is preventing friendships from being destroyed bad?

Did anyone in the thread contend they are? It doesn't follow that if lying is morally wrong, sparing someone hurt or saving a friendship is wrong too.

You are making the assumption that when an unfortunate or inconvenient truth is present, the only way to avoid hurting someone or preserving a friendship is to lie.

This simply isn't the case. It may be the easiest and personally safest way to do so, but it's not the only way.

Return to the example of someone faced with answering the question "Where is the Jew hiding?" posed by a Nazi.

Lying is not the only choice available to a person who does not want the Nazi to find the Jew.

Moreover, I hestitate to acknowledge that anyone can make a definitive call on whether "hurting" is necessary or unnecessary when a truth is basis for the potential harm.

For example, your friend has a horrible singing voice but insists on trying out for American Idol. You know there is no way that the judges will advance him, but when he asks you if he has the quality of voice that can move him to the next level, you lie and answer that he does. Your thinking is that its unnecessary to hurt him, by telling him he can't sing, but if the truth is that he cannot sing, you've only postponed his hurt. Wouldn't it be better to tell him he can't sing and possibly prevent himself from going forward than risking him being humiliated on nationwide TV?

Of course your telling him he can't sing will probably hurt him and may end your friendship, but whose interests are you trying to protect?


Why do people who believe in the moral absolute (of not lying) engage in deception so much?

You can't possibly know this to be true.

Why when people who believe in the absolute lie, do they then try and justify it to themselves (rather than having thought about the consequences first, and made the best decision they can)

Here again, you are assuming that everyone who believes lying is morally wrong simply spouts "the truth" whenever they have a chance with no consideration for consequences.

By the way - I'm spent the last few years looking at the 'why', and understandiing to who am. I try never to lie to myself, and I try never to lie to others.

Good for you, but you have already admitted that you will happily lie when you feel it is required. Assuming that you always know when a lie is warranted and when it is not is simply another form of self-deception.

The more I've understood, the less I've lied. I now recognise signs of 'discomfort' (a mild form of fear) and negotiate those away - so I no longer have to make up excuses (ie lies) for my inner behaviour. As that happens, your life comes more into line, and you feel a lesser need to lie to others. Things about yourself become clearer, and so too then, do your responses.

You are unneccessarily bringing self-deception into the discussion. Lying to someone is not the same as lying to yourself --- unless you have multiple personalities.

I find an absolutist view needlessly judgemental, and quite unhelpful in the development of peoples lives. A look at the why's, an understanding of the motivating factors, and an understanding of the consequences is much more beneficial in the long run, to peoples happiness.

In this, it is you who are being judgmental. Situational morality is far more judgmental that absolute moralism. There is nothing by judgmentalism in situational morality.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jun, 2011 05:16 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
You are making the assumption that when an unfortunate or inconvenient truth is present, the only way to avoid hurting someone or preserving a friendship is to lie.

This is not an assumption I have made
Quote:
Moreover, I hestitate to acknowledge that anyone can make a definitive call on whether "hurting" is necessary or unnecessary when a truth is basis for the potential harm.

Again – you mistake me
Quote:
Why do people who believe in the moral absolute (of not lying) engage in deception so much?

You can't possibly know this to be true.

That was a generalised statement.
Quote:
Here again, you are assuming that everyone who believes lying is morally wrong simply spouts "the truth" whenever they have a chance with no consideration for consequences.
No, not everyone – that was a generalised statement
Quote:
Good for you, but you have already admitted that you will happily lie when you feel it is required. Assuming that you always know when a lie is warranted and when it is not is simply another form of self-deception.

This is a deception on your part. I am never happy about feeling the need to tell a lie. Truth is always the preferred path when dealing with others, but not always the best path.
Quote:
You are unneccessarily bringing self-deception into the discussion. Lying to someone is not the same as lying to yourself --- unless you have multiple personalities.
Self deception is integrally linked to how much people lie to other people.
Quote:
In this, it is you who are being judgmental. Situational morality is far more judgmental that absolute moralism. There is nothing by judgmentalism in situational morality.
Of course I am - and happy to admitt it. However, what I said was ‘needlessly judgemental’ and ‘unhelpful’. So you have skewed my words.

Your conclusion that absolute morality is less judgemental than situational morality is akin to the difference between the starting of wars and diplomacy. One is much less tolerant than the other.

Does it not strike you that you try to make my words suit your world view by putting the worst possible slant on them you can think of (ie demonising it, regardless of your accuracy or not), and ignoring the good? Perhaps you should ask yourself why you do this
0 Replies
 
 

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