Lying

 
trmcgeehan
 
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trmcgeehan
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18 August 2013 04:44
 

I see where Sam Harris has a new book entitled Lying.  Haven’t read it yet, but I will.  Have you ever read Winston Churchill’s defense of lying?

“The truth is so precious, it must be protected by a bodyguard of lies.” 

(Two examples he gave:  British uniformed bodies with fake, misleading credentials washed up on the Normandy beach months prior to the invasion to mislead Germans as to the location of the invasion). ( Abraham Lincoln getting slavery abolished by secretly bribing lame duck legislators with patronage jobs.) 

So is lying and deceit ok in certain situations if the end result is noble and beneficial?  What say you?

 
veggiegeek
 
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veggiegeek
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18 August 2013 07:30
 

When you judge what someone’s done, you have the motive, the method, and the outcome(s) to think about.  I think a lie is fine if the motive and the outcomes are both good.

For instance, imagine someone’s husband is applying for a job and is nervous about ageism working against him.  She assures him that he doesn’t look any older than he did ten years ago (this is a lie); he goes to the interview feeling confident and nails it.  I don’t know how anyone could condemn the lie in that scenario?

The idea that lying is “wrong” is just a rule of thumb, reflecting the fact that the motive is rarely good and the outcomes often aren’t either.

 
June
 
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June
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18 August 2013 09:26
 

.

[ Edited: 05 May 2014 19:11 by June]
 
 
NL.
 
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NL.
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22 January 2017 15:17
 

Resurrecting an old thread because I was mentally revisiting Harris’s “Lying” book after posting in the “The Putin Question” thread concerning Russia. It made me think of how people mistrust Russia because they have a long history of bait and switch. And yet the societal answer to that, in terms of being morally upright, isn’t “don’t bait”, it’s “don’t switch”. In fact all of society relies on some level of insincerity as we agree to take on various roles that may well be in direct conflict with our current personal reality. No one wants their doctor to turn red and start swearing about their cell phone bill instead of ‘faking’ something of a bedside manner, or to see a firefighter hanging around outside a burning building going “Oooo, maaaaaaybe not”, no matter how they ‘really’ feel. Same for any longterm role people agree to play - not only can it be fake at times, being fake and playing a role is the moral choice. What’s immoral is dropping whatever collective playacting you’ve agreed to.


And yet verbal truth is the exact opposite of this. If for some reason you asked your doctor, explicitly “Hey, are you upset about your cell phone bill at this very moment”, or the firefighter “Do you really want to run into that burning building?”, then suddenly the moral onus would be on them to either deter the question or answer honestly. It’s something I never really thought about before but it made me wonder what exactly shifts in one framing to the next. I share the intuition that it is ‘lying’ when it involves deceptive words and ‘fulfilling an obligation’ when it involves deceptive actions, but I wonder what it is that makes these two things so categorically different when it comes to morality.

 
 
brandon davis
 
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brandon davis
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02 March 2017 05:19
 

imho:
in Signaling Theory…

(which applies everywhere from Poker Strategy to Economics to Mating Strategy to Cryptonomicon to the Psychophysiologic Markers of Natural Language Use to Piaget’s Hidden Beliefs to Self-Deception in Psychopathology to Oblivious Transfer to Communication Theory to Psychosocial Peace…)

...Lying is where things always seem to Fall apart.

Cheers,
-b

 
NL.
 
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NL.
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04 March 2017 17:00
 
brandon davis - 02 March 2017 05:19 AM

imho:
in Signaling Theory…

(which applies everywhere from Poker Strategy to Economics to Mating Strategy to Cryptonomicon to the Psychophysiologic Markers of Natural Language Use to Piaget’s Hidden Beliefs to Self-Deception in Psychopathology to Oblivious Transfer to Communication Theory to Psychosocial Peace…)

...Lying is where things always seem to Fall apart.

Cheers,
-b


I think any system that is based on 100% literal truth at all times is bound to go the way of the Dodo bird anyhow, though. Kind of like the way that peace and nonviolence are great ideals but every large civilization still has police and a military to buffer for other possibilities, should they occur. Outside of robots, any system of communication has to have some kind of adaptation to deal with misinformation or incorrect information - whether it’s due to lying, human error, confusion, and so on. If it can’t withstand some level of this I’d say it’s not a feasible system to begin with.


Theory of mind norms tend to differ by culture (in the stereotypical deep South or Japan, say, where indirect communication is the norm, what others would consider a “lie” is what they consider “being socially appropriate” - in the same way that you or I don’t consider it lying to say “I’m fine” in response to “How are you?” if we’re in a bad mood. In Japan I’m told it’s culturally inappropriate to say ‘no’, for example, in the South I swear everything they say is code for something or other, ha ha!), but I think they are fairly universal - in all systems of communication involving humans, we factor in a certain degree of possibility for error, be it due to bias, incomplete information, lying, or any number of things.

 
 
Jomy James
 
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Jomy James
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03 May 2017 23:03
 

Lying is the biggest poison in the relationship , which kills slowly