Little White Lies

I am writing a ten page paper for my Ethical Theory Class on “White Lies”. I chose the subject because I thought it would be interesting and practical. But I am having trouble finding any philosophers other than Kant who have written on the subject.

Do you know of any?


The white lie is always in service of a larger “lie”. So that is where you will find the strongest material. Just how is reality to be ideologically constructed, and when constructed, how supported?

As Nietzsche writes of the “larger” lie, “the lie of the ideal has been the curse of reality, by means of it, man’s most basic instincts have become mendacious and false.” -Ecce Homo

But the lie of the ideal can be traced has far back and Plato’s Republic, where the lies of the poets (377e), are seen as deleterious when compared to the lies that should be told regarding the gods (378c, 380c).


“Lying is not only saying what is not true. It is also and especially saying more than is true and, as far as the human heart is concerned, saying more than one feels”- Camus

I’ve always liked this statement.

Bill, Leo Strauss may be an interesting contemporary philosopher to look at? He’s the darling of the Neo Cons and an old mentor of Paul Wolfowitz.

Basically Strauss believes a nation should be ruled by the strong and the wise and not by the people (or dumb king, for that matter).
He advises power brokers to use code, secrecy and subterfuge (white lies?) to placate and manipulate the people so they can attain their desired goals.

If you want something “interesting and practical” I don’t know if you could do much better than to talk about the philosophy that’s guiding america today.

FTR, I’m totally opposed to the “end justifies the means” concept because the rulers (and country) end up BECOMING the “means” – they become liars, cheats, untrustworthy etc. so, even if they reach their goals, they end up with a system and a situation that’s riddled with decay and corruption — a situation where, guess what? – more “white lies” are needed. And on it goes until it collapses. I firmly believe america has begun down this track which will eventually bankrupt it financially and morally.

When I mean little white lies…I mean the way you respond when the wife asks “Do I look fat in this dress”