Sisella Bok, author of a major philosophical book on the subject of lying, defines a lie as: an intentionally deceptive message in the form of a statement Others stretch the definition to include doing nothing in response to a question, knowing that this will deceive the questioner. Sir Walter Scott, Marmion Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we carry out one researcher has said 'lying is an unavoidable part of human nature'so it's worth spending time sonething about it.
First inspect our own conscience and ask whether the lie is justified Second, ask friends or colleagues, or people with special ethical knowledge what they think about the particular case Thirdly, consult some independent persons about it This sort of test is most useful when considering what we might call 'public' lying - when an institution is considering just how much truth to tell about a project - perhaps a medical experiment, or a proposed war, or an environmental development.
Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, If we were to apply this test as a thought experiment we would bring together a panel of everyone affected by a particular lie - the liar, those lied to and everyone who might be affected by the lie. But even people who think lying is always wrong have a problem But what could we do in the real world? This just perpetuates and escalates the argument. Lying and ethical theory Lying and ethical theory Different theories of ethics approach haas in different ways.
What would a public jury of reasonable persons ahs about this lie?
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Hs word comes from from the Greek word deon, meaning duty. Virtue ethics Virtue ethics looks at what good virtuous people do. Deontologists don't always agree on how we arrive at 'moral laws', or on what such laws are, but one generally accepted moral law is 'do not tell lies'. She calls it the test of publicity: The test of publicity asks which lies, if any, would survive the appeal for justification to reasonable persons. Repeat the points back to reaffirm that you were listening, express your own and then work on a solution.
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Society is hurt because: The general level of truthfulness falls - other people may be encouraged to lie Lying may become a generally accepted practice in some quarters It becomes harder for people to trust each other or the institutions of society Social cohesion is weakened Eventually no-one is able to believe anyone else and society collapses When is it OK to lie? Lying is a form of deception, but not all forms of deception are lies.
We would then put forward all our arguments pperson telling a particular lie and then ask that 'jury' of relevant and reasonable persons if telling this lie was justified. An act is therefore either a right or a wrong act, regardless of whether it produces good or bad consequences. In most cases of personal small scale lying there is no opportunity to do anything more than consult our own conscience - but we should remember that our conscience is usually rather biased in our favour.
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When I later eat that piece of pie I discover that there really is a worm in it the case where nobody is so,ething by me because they know that I always tell lies Lying and statements Some philosophers believe that lying requires a statement of some sort; they say that the liar must actually speak or write or gesture. Others include 'living a lie'; those cases where someone behaves in a way that misle the rest of us as to their true nature. Focus on their tone, their body language, their feelings, and the broad points they are making.
Lying is giving some information while believing it to be untrue, intending to deceive by doing so. This has a certain commonsense appeal, but it's also quite impractical since it requires a person to work out in advance the likely good and bad consequences of the lie they are about to tell and balance the good against the bad. A lie has three essential features: A lie communicates some information The liar intends to deceive or mislead The liar believes that what they are 'saying' is not true There are some features that people think are part of lying but aren't actually necessary: A lie does not have to give false information A lies does not have to be told with a bad malicious intention - white lies are an example of lies told peson a wo intention This definition says that what makes a lie a lie is that the liar intends to deceive or at least to mislead the person they are lying to.
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Most people would say that lying is always wrong, except when there's a good reason for it - which means that it's not always wrong! It's certainly not foolproof, but it may be helpful. It says nothing about whether the information given is true or false. And if telling a particular lie produces a worse result than not telling it, telling it would be a bad thing to do. One executive observed to this writer that a useful test for the justifiability of an action that he was uncertain about was to imagine what the press would write afterwards if they discovered what he had somethnig and compared it to what he had said in advance.
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This is hard to do, because: consequences are hard to predict measuring good and bad is hard how do we decide what is good and what is bad? These alawys forms of Utilitarianism could lead to different : An act-Utilitarian might say that telling a lie in a particular case did lead to the best for everyone involved and for society as a whole, while a rule-Utilitarian might argue that since lying made society a less happy place, it was wrong to tell lies, even in this particular case.
What moral justifications are there for telling this lie - and what counter-arguments can be raised against those justifications? A good way alaays helping our conscience is to ask how we would feel if we were on the receiving end of the lie. Sudhir Gadha board-certified psychiatrist with a private practice in New York City. A liar should have a good memory Quintilian O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
Bok sets out some factors that should be considered when contemplating a lie: Are there some truthful alternatives to using a lie to deal with the particular problem?
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There are many reasons why people think lying is wrong; which ones resonate best with you will depend on the way you think about ethics. Consequentialists Utilitarians and lies Consequentialists assess the rightness or wrongness of doing something by looking at the consequences caused by that somdthing. This definition covers ordinary cases of lying and these two odd cases as well: the case where someone inadvertently gives true information while believing that they're telling a lie I want the last helping of pie for myself, so I lie to you that there is a worm in it.
Why is lying wrong? So if telling a particular lie produces a better result than not telling it, then telling it would be a good thing to do. The solution might be to consider what an ideal person would have done in the particular circumstances.
The philosopher Sissela Bok put forward a process for testing whether a lie could be justified. If 10 lies are worse than 1 lie then it would seem to be a good thing to tell the first lie, but if lying is wh wrong then it's wrong to tell the first lie If honesty is a virtue in the particular system involved, then lying is a bad thing.
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In grossly over-simplified terms, those who follow consequentialist theories alwaays concerned with the consequences of lying and if telling a lie would lead to a better result than telling the truth, they will argue that it is good to tell the lie. Acknowledgement Nobody who writes about lying nowadays can do so without acknowledging an enormous debt to this groundbreaking book: Lying: Moral choice in public and private life, by Sisela Bok, This is an example of 'rule-utilitarianism'; considering every single action separately is 'act-Utilitarianism'.
Consider the case where telling a lie would mean that 10 other lies would not be told. Deontologists Deontologists base their moral thinking on general universal laws, and not on the of particular acts. Lies obviously hurt the person prrson is lied to most of the timebut they can also hurt the liar, and society in general. The difficulty with this approach comes when a virtuous person tells a lie as a result of another virtue compassion qlways.
What is a lie?