Flexible Ethics

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Kitti, May 7, 2016.

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  1. Where do you stand on lying?
    Are you okay with white lies (I think your new mustache makes you look great and definitely not like a pedo)? Where do you draw the line? Do you think that some white lies are better or would the world be a better place if we all took the unpleasant truths on the chin all the time?

    Do you lie?
  2. The world would be a beautiful place if we could all simply put aside our emotions at any given time to think more rationally and logically about what would produce the best outcome. There would be no more need for wars, or lies, or murder, or greed, or vanity. There would be no need for makeup, no need for magazines, and the only news stories published would be about the advancement of mankind. There would be no obesity, everyone would be fit, and by now, we'd be colonizing other planets, and mastering the art of terraforming. We would use nuclear devices not to obliterate each other, but to liquefy the cores of dead worlds to make them generate a magnetic field to protect the life we would seed upon it. There would be no more need for government laws, or programs to assist the poor. The concept of injustice would be a foreign and perhaps even outright alien idea.

    That is, however, not the world we live in.

    We live in a world where people's emotions compel them to many misdeeds. Some are minor, and don't really mean anything in the long run. I drink alcohol for example. Alcohol is a poison that, over a prolonged period of time, can and likely will damage your liver and eventually cause it to shut down. I'm not addicted to it, but others do get addicted, because their emotions compel them into the black void that alcohol provides.

    Walk down a street and say hello to people. Just, say it, randomly. Some will reply in a friendly way, others will ignore you. Some will strike up conversations, others will try to terminate the discussion and start walking away quickly with a disgruntled look. These responses are all emotionally driven, because emotions are the core to compelling us to want for things. To want for love, or to want for respect, or to want for acceptance, or to want for a good life. To want for wealth, to want for glory, to want for pride, to want for material possessions, to want to improve, to want for knowledge, to want for peace... This is the driving force behind the human race. All throughout human history and our own personal lives you can watch this procession of wants, balanced with needs, coming to a head with others whose wants and needs are contradictory and conflicting.

    The truth is, I would love to live in a world where wars and lies are not necessary, but this is not that world. We are not a perfect species. We are more prone to emotion than we are logic, and it's shown in how the brain develops through puberty. Your emotional capacity develops and matures before your rational capacity, which is why a teenager can feel, ask, and understand all sorts of complicated questions about life, but misunderstand their parents' facial reactions with anger or other singular emotions, when it could be multifaceted. This is simply how we've evolved, and it shows in how our civilizations structure themselves throughout history. It shows in why we create stories and feel compelled and attracted and inspired by fictional characters and situations that were never real.

    Sometimes, a lie is necessary to prevent greater pain that the truth would create. Sometimes it's okay to lie to let someone down gently, or to lie in order to help someone feel better. For example: If someone breaks their leg, I don't fucking know if they'll be okay. For all I know, they shredded a main artery with bone shrapnel and they're going to die in a few minutes from internal bleeding. Yet, if I tell them the truth--which is, that I don't know--that may cause them to panic, causing their heart rate to spike, and blood to pump faster, and they will die faster. A couple minutes could see the difference between the ambulance getting that person to the hospital in time for a blood transfusion, or a white sheet being wrapped over their muted form as their family has to come to grips with why their daddy won't be able to spend Christmas with them. If I lie, he might believe it, or at the very least my sincere compassion might cause him to calm, and the heart will slow, and that may buy him a couple minutes of life. Then the doctors could save his life.

    The truth is: Life is too complicated for the black and white narratives we're taught in school or in saturday morning cartoons. It's all shades of grey. There is such a thing as the necessary evil, which makes balancing between the precipice of good and evil an extraordinarily hard task that you will have to do all your life.
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  4. Where do you stand on lying?

    It depends on why the person is lying to me, or what is going on. From my studies, and I could be wrong, people lie to gain attention to themselves or they cannot face the reality of what actually happened or didn't. That being said, when someone lies to me I want to know why. I've run into frequent liars in my life, and all of them have proven that they cannot hold a conversation without lying. Now it certainly doesn't mean that this fact does not bother me. I don't like being lied to, but I will deal with whoever is doing it in a manner that is appropriate for that person.

    People lie for various different reasons, and often times I have found that the people who do it for attention have something going on with how they cope with social situations. I don't think that I have any right to judge someone else for their coping skills, or for the reason why they are lying to me.

    That doesn't mean I am going to surround myself with liars, it means that I am going to realize what they are doing and handle it the best way I can. I mean I'll call someone out if that lie is going to hurt someone else or themselves, but otherwise I normally just sit back and let them tell me something I very well know is bullshite. Live and let live. But that's just me.

    Are you okay with white lies (I think your new mustache makes you look great and definitely not like a pedo)?

    I'm brutally honest with people. If you ask me how you look in something, I will give you my full opinion. However, I don't mind them as much as I do with full on lying.

    A white lie is needed sometimes to protect yourself and the people around you.

    Where do you draw the line?

    I draw the line when someone gets hurt. Telling me that you turn pink every night after eating grapefruits isn't harmful. Telling me that you turn blue every night because you strangle yourself (even though you do not) is harmful. Why is it harmful? Let's break down both of these.

    'You turn pink every night after eating grapefruits.'

    The logic behind this statement is farcical. Since we know that grapefruits physically cannot make you change your skin colour, it's a laughable lie and harmless. Most it's going to earn you is a couple of eye rolls and a few sighs.

    'You turn blue every night because you strangle yourself'

    When you tell someone that you are going to do physical damage to yourself, even though you are not, it panics people. Telling someone that you strangle yourself until you turn blue makes them worked up and worried for your safety, and when they realize it was a lie it hurts them and makes them ignore you the next time you decide to cry wolf. But you might not actually be crying wolf, either that or they get you put into the Psych Ward for pulling such a stunt. They don't believe you are stable.

    Another example is when someone tells me they did something, but they didn't and it ends up costing me, or someone else, expensively. I almost at one point got arrested for something incredibly serious because someone made up a lie. The staff at the hotel and the police were able to prove my innocence, but that will always stay with me.

    If your lie is malicious, it's deemed in my book as really bad.

    I draw the line when your lie gets people into trouble or hurt.
  5. I should probably clarify first, I grew up in a family that subscribes rather strongly under the "Telling the truth or lying doesn't matter, as long as people are happy", meanwhile I'm more of a direct individual. I want to know what my situation is, what's going on, and what are my options of dealing with it. This conflict of philosophy has caused a number of other conflicts growing up, varying from disagreements with stuff like if God, Ghosts or Psychics exist, right up into a division where family members start to act alien because they put 'Blunt' and 'Heartless' in the same category. So basically, consider this a disclaimer for that I was unintentionally raised to despise most forms of dishonesty may it to other people or yourself.

    So for the most part I'm against white lies, cause majority of the time people will claim they're trying to consider the other person but what they actually mean to say is "I don't want to deal with their reaction for being honest". So usually white lies serves as a way to avoid conflict, even if you're simply delaying an even greater pain later on. This could be something minor like lying about someone's hair, where I could walk out with bad har with some confidence... only to be ridiculed in public for it, or I could be warned my hair is messed up ahead time and find some way to fix it, like get a trim, or wear a hat. Or it could be something more serious, like "Is my education/relationship etc. in bad shape?". I could keep going, believing it's all fine and then get hit with a painful break up or low enough grades to drop out, or I could learn my situation ahead of time and try to either up my grades or resolve a relationship issue before it get's worse. That being said though, sometimes in rare circumstances a lie might be necessary. Keeping someone calm in an accident, not telling an abusive spouse where the other one is etc.

    So in a nutshell?

    Lies of convenience should be done away with.
    Lies of necessity I don't enjoy, but I understand why we need them.
    #5 Gwazi Magnum, May 8, 2016
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  6. This I agree with.

    I don't condone lying, and honesty is the best policy, but it's not always what's needed at the right time. People and situations have to be taken into account.

    I feel people take being honest to automatically mean just bluntly stating things. "The truth hurts", for example. Which in many cases it does, like a doctor telling someone they have cancer. No matter how nicely it's said, it's going to be painful to hear.

    But for something superficial like a mustache, there are much nicer ways to say things without exactly hurting the other person and telling him he has a pedo-stache.

    But that's just me.
  7. Short and Sweet:

    Lying is a necessary evil. And it is (for some instances) a method of self-defense.
  8. I, personally, see nothing good come out of lying. White lies are obnoxious and can be infuriating in certain circumstances, whereas lies about people's appearance is...

    What I'm trying to say is: I'm blunt. I'm very honest and always have been. If I think you look stupid, if I think some idea is stupid, I'll tell you. I don't find anything wrong about this personally, but I can see why others would. But it's just me-- I can't lie, I don't like to lie, and I won't lie. And I hate it when others lie. If I look stupid, if my idea is stupid, tell me.

    That's all.
  9. I hate lying and generally don't, the exception being when not lying would result in larger consequences for me or someone else which I find inappropriate (True Neutral here, hello). Though off the top of my head I can't remember lying to evade consequences myself – most of it was for other people.

    That said, I very much dislike white lies and speak my mind unless I am not required to talk. Though there aren't a lot of people who ask me for my opinions. Could be correlated.
  10. I don't really believe in moral absolutes. I think that the "right" decision depends on a whole ton of factors in the situation, so it's kind of difficult to describe where exactly the lines would be drawn in any case or set any sort of specific principles as to what makes something "right", because even those kind of principles seem too absolute for me and I feel like there will always be exceptions.

    In general, though, I think honesty is the better policy. I often find that the truth is more useful to a person (ie: I'd rather offer constructive criticism than praise someone's work when I don't actually think it's any good), and I think that, if people are told the truth, then they can make better and more informed decisions about their life -- something that would be difficult if they don't have the full picture because people have been lying to protect their feelings.

    That said, just because I prefer being honest doesn't mean I prefer being blunt, because I don't. Although I may sometimes place honesty above someone else's feelings, that doesn't mean I can't still be gentle and protect their feelings the best I can while still delivering the full truth. There are ways to soften the blow of a painful truth -- and besides, people tend to be a lot more receptive to a truth that's delivered gently than one that's blunt. And if I'm telling someone the truth because I think it would be better for them, then me being blunt would make them more likely to reject my argument -- at which point, me telling the truth hasn't done anything but make them upset. They're still no better off. :/ I avoid bluntness not only because I think it is more kind, but also because I find it to be more effective in getting across a truth that the other person might find hard-to-swallow.

    In any case, there are exceptions to all the rules I just laid out here. This is just how I generally feel in most situations. There are times when I may lie because I don't think much harm could come of it, or there might be times when I really do want to protect their feelings more than tell the truth, if I think that telling them the truth isn't worth it for whatever reason. And, there are times when I might lie because it's just easier, and it's a low-stakes situation so it really doesn't matter. For example, there have been times (usually only IRL) when I've let people win arguments and told them they were right even when I still felt that they weren't just because I was tired and I didn't want to debate anymore. And I'm sure there have all been times when we said we were busy even though we really weren't just because it was more convenient for us or because we had some complicated situation that we didn't want to explain. When it comes to small things like this, I don't see very much harm. And, there are times when I might need to be blunt because trying to be kind just isn't working. It all depends on the situation -- that's my philosophy with most things.
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  11. It'd nice if we could live in a world with unabashed truths being just a constant. However, take a gander at how most people would react to this very honest conversation.

    "Hi, I'm attracted to you."
    "I think you're an asshole."
    "Would you like to go out some time?"
    "I'd rather chew off my own leg."

    So... Yeah.

    People are emotional. Whether it is lying, phrasing, filtering, etcetera, effective communication considers the feelings of the receiver and sender both. It'd be nice if it didn't have to and yes a lot of people are fucking petty or insecure, but when you want to effectively communicate a message you're going to need to adjust to the receiver to a certain extent. If you tell your co-worker his work is utter shit and he should up his game, well unless you're his superior they are, 9 out of 10 times going to think you're an asshole, rather than listen to what you have to say. If you however, come up to them and ask how they're doing and offer to help, they might be more inclined to take your advice on how to improve their work.

    Also. "Sweetheart I love you but I think your parents are the scum of the earth." Tends not to be a good way to keep your marriage happy. I mean, even saying "I respect your parents for having and raising you, but I am a very different person and I don't think I get along with them very well." Is kind of threading thin ice depending how much your partner values honesty versus everyone in the family getting along.

    Or then there's having kids, who you can tell their drawings suck, but then they'll never be motivated to draw more and polish their skill. Because negative reinforcement is stifling. I mean, medal for being honest but now you've got a depressed kid who thinks they've disappointed their parents. Not great parenting advice.

    I'm kind of rambling, I guess, but relationships often need lies and half-truths because people are more emotional than rational. I honestly believe anyone who denies this as a black and white fashion is either lying or mentally retarded.
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  12. Lying is necessary, and it's not inherently evil. It's the grease that keeps the cogs of the machinery of society turning with minimal grinding and squeaking.

    What's better, being honest about something that doesn't matter even a little bit or hurting a friend's feelings with the truth? Say they mention that they feel like they look great today, but you think their outfit is kind of hideous. They don't have anything important like a job interview today, just normal stuff where going out looking crappy (in your opinion) isn't going to do them any harm. Should you tell them and make them feel like you're attacking them for no reason or insulting their sense of fashion/style, or should you just nod and go along with it and let them feel confident and attractive throughout their day? A consummately honest person would hit them with the truth; a person who cares about their friend's feelings would lie.

    Sometimes the lie is simply the better option when you give the situation a simple pros and cons analysis. Honesty is not inherently good, lying is not inherently bad. The trick is to choose the right tool for the right job to get the results you think are best. Trying to always use one over the other is like insisting on hammering in screws because the hammer is good and the screwdriver is bad. The only absolute stance one should take on moral absolutism of any kind (which is exactly what honest = good, lying = bad is) is that moral absolutism is garbage and should be left in the trash heap alongside all other philosophies that don't understand human nature.
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  13. I'm pretty much the worst liar, as in I tend to have a hard time keeping a straight face. When I was a kid, I always would end up smiling, so it was rare I'd get away with anything.

    Now adays, I really don't like lying, and the closest I come to it is omitting information which is the same thing for all intents and purposes. On the whole, however, not being honest can make a bad situation worse. It's better if the truth comes from your mouth than someone else's.
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  14. As someone who went to counselling because my habitual lying was going to cost me my marriage.. It's bad. Generally always in too many varying degrees.

    Mind you I still do. We all do. It's human nature. Right now it's just working on fixing my tact when it comes to disagreements and discussions without sounding rude or insulting. So now I gotta be blunt/honest without being an asshole!

    The problem being no one believed me as a kid no matter what I did. Something about a trust complex I developed said the shrink. No one believed me either way so I just lied out of convenience to expedite encounters I didn't want to be a part of.
  15. Jesus. The lot of you. Lying bastards!!

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