Ethics of lying

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Ethics of lying

Postby dbmag9 » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:48 am

If you're interested in the ethics around lying, there's a great book by Jenny Saul called Lying, Misleading, and What is Said which is fairly accessible from what I remember. Her thesis is that there is no ethical difference between lying and misleading, despite the various historical thoughts to the contrary.
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby kd7sov » Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:49 pm

I have no prior knowledge of the book, but for years my definition of "lie" has boiled down (and not very far) to "intent to deceive".
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby Horizon » Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:43 am

The definition I use is "intentionally misleading"; that is, if you say things in with the intent of leading me to believe things that are not true, it doesn't matter how technically correct you are, you just lied to me.

Naturally, when I write fiction, I take a much narrower definition: an outright false statement, presented as truth. This allows me to write trickster characters who technically never lie and yet lead people to false conclusions all the damn time.
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby crayzz » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:00 pm

Honestly I'm surprised there's a whole book dedicated to this. It's a simple enough argument.
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby JustinReilly » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:31 am

crayzz wrote:Honestly I'm surprised there's a whole book dedicated to this. It's a simple enough argument.

Filling entire books to detail a simple argument? Sounds like the entire discipline of Philosophy.
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby Tem » Mon Mar 14, 2016 3:40 pm

The ethics are rather easy, in my book.

Deceiving someone in a way that puts them at a disadvantage is wrong. Whether this is done with false statements or just misleading statements, does not matter.

Deceiving someone in order to take a decision that is theirs to make away from them is wrong, too. (Like, feeding a vegetarian who is not allergic to meat actual meat while claiming it is soy, or something like that. It won't harm them, but it is still wrong.)

The truly tricky territory is telling untruths that don't affect people in any negative way. (Like the "I have no time" instead of "You are getting on my nerves and I can only endure you so many days a week" lie.)

The difference between lying and misleading is only interesting if you write fiction about beings that cannot, technically, lie, as Horizon pointed out.
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby DanielH » Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:11 pm

I have seen fictional people make the argument that, if it becomes known that they only deceive through true statements instead of lying, then they can say something plainly and be more believable. This isn’t really an ethical point, though.
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby Razmoudah » Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:15 pm

JustinReilly wrote:
crayzz wrote:Honestly I'm surprised there's a whole book dedicated to this. It's a simple enough argument.

Filling entire books to detail a simple argument? Sounds like the entire discipline of Philosophy.


No, Just filling entire books to detail a simple argument is literature. Philosophy is when the books don't necessarily agree with each other so people can write further books arguing the merit of one view over another (or even trying to take a middle ground and just present all possible views). When the arguments stop happening in books and affect nations it evolves into Political Science. Huh, maybe politics is just a highly evolved Pokemon or Digimon, depending on which you prefer.
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Re: Ethics of lying

Postby cleveresttitle » Sat Sep 17, 2016 7:19 pm

DanielH wrote:I have seen fictional people make the argument that, if it becomes known that they only deceive through true statements instead of lying, then they can say something plainly and be more believable. This isn’t really an ethical point, though.

I've also seen (xth-hand through tvtropes, mostly) fictional people state things to the effect of "[group of people who can't Lie but often Mislead] can't be trusted ever, especially if they say it straight".
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