October 28, 2005

Horse 425 - Lies, Half-Truths, Truths and Untruths

In BJD's Divulge which goes up every Friday, we are given the opportunity to answer 5 questions. One of this week's question was particularly interesting.

Is it right or wrong to tell lies to make people feel better?
to which I answered:
It's not helpful to tell lies, even if the truth hurts.

This led me thinking this morning about that most grevious of questions, namely "Does my bum look big in this?"

Two principles I consider core:
1. The old "Do not bear false witness against your neighbour" line. Any distortion of the truth (direct lie or omission) which is designed to paint an misleading perception of another is out. Some people tell a lot of lies by only telling part of the story.

2. Does omitting part of the truth give me an unfair advantage over the other person? There are times I may wish to ommit detail from a response either to protect my privacy or to avoid unnecessary hurt to another (maybe to save my skin). Questions like "What are you thinking?" or "Does my bum look big in this?" are ones which often require a less than full and honest answer.

Consider another question from this set:
"Is it right or wrong to do 10% over the speed limit?"
I might choose not to seek out the police to report myself if I notice that I have exceeded the speed limit but will answer honestly if stopped and asked.

This sounds kind of messy. It is not a defence of dishonesty, it is an attempt to have a framework for honesty which allows for privacy and avoids unnecessary hurt without allowing any space for dishonesty for the sake of personal advantage.

"Does my bum look big in this?"
Life would all be easier if people did not ask some of those questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

if u break the law without noticing, u still break the law. r u condoning breaking the law?

if u claim to be all good and shit, then y don't u report urself to da polices if u break tha law?