To Tell The Truth

Is it always wrong to lie instead of telling the truth?

  • It is always wrong to tell a lie.
  • It is wrong to lie unless a matter of life or death.
  • It is sometimes okay to lie, depending on the circumstances of my situation as I deem fit.
  • It truly doesn’t matter.
0 voters

A leader of one country knows that if the leader of another country stops selling oil to his country, as that oil-exporting country’s leader is genuinely planning, that his country would suffer greatly for the loss of that oil, so he decides his only course of action is to invade that oil-exporting country and steal that country’s oil distribution rights to insure his country continues to receive sufficient economic life-blood oil. This leader most certainly knows that the invasion will cost scores of thousands of the oil-exporting country’s innocent civilians their lives, including the lives of tens of thousands of little children. He also knows that if he therefore tells the truth of his intent, to steal that oil-exporting country’s oil and at the predicted inevitable costs, that he may be refused by his country’s people, likely resulting in a great economic depression for his country. He is resolute that the invasion needs to occur. Does he tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth and risk refusal, or does he make up lies to convince his country’s people to support him so he can get his way? Which is right?

A woman loves the man with whom she is romantically committed and he loves her. The relationship is working well. Soon after the “honeymoon” is over and they settle into everyday relating, she begins to become distracted by another man, a friend of the man she’s with who hangs out in his social group, a social group that she also gets to associate with merely by virtue of being with her present boyfriend, a social group she is not originally a part of. Eventually she realizes that she wants to end her present relationship and begin pursuing a relationship with this other man. She needs to tell her present boyfriend that it’s over. If she tells him the truth, that their relationship is really good but that she’s just more attracted to this other man, she will really hurt her boyfriend and she doesn’t want to do that. However, deeper down, she realizes that she has come to greatly enjoy socializing with her present boyfriend’s social group, and she knows that if she tells him the truth, she will also then be honor bound by respect for traditional social ethics to take the hand of this other man and both of them leave her boyfriend’s social group, leaving her present boyfriend’s social group to him until if and when he invites her (and her new lover) back once he’s done grieving his loss. She is resolute about leaving her present boyfriend for this other man. Does she tell her boyfriend the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth even though she will lose the new social group she greatly values, or does she make up a ton of lies to tell her boyfriend and others about why their relationship needs to end complete with secrets to manipulate others who become involved in the situation, lying that she just didn’t want to hurt her old boyfriend when others find out what she did, so that she can move in the direction of this other man and keep it a secret (a movement which began while she was still with her boyfriend!) so that she can stay in her ex-boyfriend’s social group making her “eventual” relationship with her ex-boyfriend’s friend in the social group “appear” as innocent as possible and thus “acceptable” when her new relationship is “officially” revealed many weeks later? Which is right?

A man is doing well as a director in a highly competitive corporation. He hires a manager who also performs well and beats out a competing department’s managers for client service and billing rights. The director of the competing department is pissed and embarrassed. The beaten director then conspires with two of the women in his department to socialize with the winning director and then file unfounded sexual harrassment charges against the competing director. The vice president in charge of the departments learns covertly by eavesdropping that the sexual harrassment charges are false. He can then go after the conspiring manager and the two women and have them fired. However … his division of the company hadn’t been doing that well lately, and he has been under the gun to make improvements or else, and he knows that the successful director is viewed very favorably by the board as someone who would make a good vice president. The present vice president fears that if the guilty manager’s behavior is brought to light that this unseemly incident might be the last straw for him with the board … and he rationalizes that if the successful heir-apparent director is ousted on sexual harrassment charges that it might lessen his chances of losing his vice presidency. Does the vice president tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth that the sexual harrassment charges are false and fire the conspirators thus risking his own job, or does the vice president simply sanction the innocent director with the false charges, perhaps leading to that director’s dismissal? Which is right?

The truth.

The right thing to do.

We all know what it is, when the chips are down.

It’s rarely really something we don’t truly know.

But sometimes we think we are between a rock and a hard place … and we are tempted to choose the wrong rock over the right hard place.

Is it ever acceptable to tell the lie?

Is it ever acceptable to do what we know is wrong?

Telling the truth always brings with it consequences. Sometimes we view those consequences as rewards, and sometimes we view those consequences as punishments. But there are always consequences.

When we tell a lie it is to avoid what we deem are subsequent bad consequences if we told the truth.

But is it ever situationally okay to tell a lie to avoid bad consequences if the bad consequences are deemed by the liar to be truly horrific … or if the liar deems the good consequences resulting from the lie are worth it?

What would you think of the people in these three viginettes if they tell the lie?

What would you think of them if they told the truth?

What would you do in these three situations?

Are there ever any situations that you’ve been in where you were tempted to lie … or that you did lie?

How did you feel about yourself after you told the lie?

If your lie compelled other people to keep inappropriate secrets based on the lie, would that bother you?

If innocent people were hurt as a result of your lie, would that nag at you?

When a friend of yours tells you that, on matters that didn’t concern you, he/she lied to get his/her way, are you negatively unaffected by it … or, even though your friend lied on a matter that didn’t involve you, does it lessen your feelings of trust in the relationship with your friend?

How did you feel when you discovered that you had been unknowingly made a player in a lie that hurt someone? If someone you know sucked you into the lie would you call them on it when you discovered what happened if the damage was long since done and most had accepted the lie-based situation as now acceptable?

Does time really make a difference in whether the lie is still wrong, meaning that if the lie is significantly later discovered after the damage is long done and accepted, is it too late then to revile the lie and its consequences, or is it never too late to call a liar on the damaging lie?

Do you have an Achilles’ heel, a hot button issue like money, sex, drugs, abandonment, enmeshment, power, success, relationships, etc. that can compel you to lie if you were to experience losses in that area if you told the truth?

How do you feel about yourself when you tell a lie to get what you want?

Once you’ve told a lie, does that make it easier to tell the next lie, or does lying so bother you that you are less likely to lie again because you don’t like how it feels to lie?

How do you feel about yourself when you tell the truth and it costs you something important?

Is this topic important?

What say ye on the matter?

It’s okay to “lie” sometimes.

If you are setting up a surprise party for somebody, and they ask you a question you have to lie about to keep it under wraps, it’s okay. :wink:

Keeping a honorably justified secret is not the same as lying.

Also, if I had any indication that I was going to be in the presence of the birthday person and thus that I might indeed be asked by this individual what I had planned for the day, I would have prepared a good diversionary answer that doesn’t involve a lie and that most certainly tells the truth. I do not have to tell the person all of my plans. It is certainly okay to keep quiet when keeping a secret.

Sure, you take the easy way out and lie, but integrity and honor are important and they are always lost when a lie is told.

Couldn’t you find a way to both keep the secret and tell the truth?

Even if this matter may seem like an absolute nothing to you to lie about, if one lied in this situation, one would feel bad as feeling bad when one tells a lie is what knowing the difference between right and wrong is all about.

Lying is always wrong.

Well, since you shared your creative definition of murder with us, let me share my definition of lying.

Lying is not telling the truth when the truth is already known. Lying can also be classified as telling a half truth only to conceal the other half. :astonished:

If I were walking down a country road and saw a fox dart into the woods, then was confronted by fox hunters who ask me which way the fox went, I would lie.
“A truth when told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you could invent”–Wm. Blake

You are projecting.

I presented the definition of murder. There is no “mine” or “yours” definition of murder.

There is only the defintion, which I presented.

You, on the other hand here, are admiting that you are fantasizing about what lying truly is.

Lying is our presentation of reality that we know does not match reality.

That’s all it takes for a presentation to be a lie.

It doesn’t matter who else knows or who else doesn’t know that we are lying.

The lie we told, remains.

There is no such thing in reality as a half truth.

You are either telling the truth or you are not.

Keeping silent is not lying.

Taking the 5th on the stand is not lying.

If there is something you don’t want to talk about, remaining silent is perfectly okay from the standpoint that remaining silent is not telling a lie.

It is always wrong to lie.

Would you lie because you don’t have the courage to tell them “I’m not going to tell you if I’ve seen any fox because I find what you’re doing offensive”?

The implication you present is that one lies out of cowardice.

Trite and irrelevant.

I chose “It truly doesn’t matter”, as that was the choice nearest my own answer. My answer is: no, it is never “wrong” (what is “wrong”?). With this I mean that it is never morally wrong. As might is right, however, if lying decreases your power, then, yes, it is wrong. So is telling (what you think is) the truth.

The same applies to murdering, by the way.

First, murder is always wrong. Then lying is always wrong. Can you mention all the things that are ALWAYS wrong?
have you or have you not lied as a child? When did you find out that lying is always wrong?

Alright, if lying is always wrong, let’s go straight to the best counterexample:

Suppose you are a person in recently occupied France hiding Jews in your house attic, and this week the SS is looking on your block for the Jews who haven’t yet been rolled off to the concentration camps. At this stage in the war resistance hasn’t been organized yet and would probably just get you killed, so you do your best to save lives by hiding these Jews and presenting a good obedient front to the Germans. Right now the SS is concerned with many matters of occupation and a full search of everyone’s house for Jews is not feasible. So what they do is a quick interrogation of everyone on the block, hoping that some people will crack under pressure and give up the secret either directly or indirectly. Thus you know that only a confident lie will save the Jews in your attic – if you hem and haw or say “I refuse to answer that question” they will take that as a yes and search; and there’s a good chance they’ll find and eventually kill those Jews. Do you lie to the SS?

Now the “ontological experience of my heart” (if there were such a thing) tells me that lying here is not wrong, but right and honorable. If the person in this situation normally has trouble lying but works themselves up to present a steely confident front, I would even call that person heroic.

The only reason I can imagine that anyone would object to lying in this situation is because they are so (consciously or unconsciously) hidebound to a hyperliteral interpretation of the Ten Commandments that they insist on that basis that lying is always wrong. Either that, or one of those ontological heart thingies, I dunno.

What say ye, JH? Or have you “cowardly” given up on responding to any of my posts, as recent threads suggest?

There is always the ideals we aspire to and then there are the obdurate realities we face. Without introducing all the possible issues inside a debate on morality, I would suggest that conscience is the best guide. This assumes good intentions in all circumstances, which may or may not be present. As is often the case, our decisions are only confirmed or denied in hindsight.

Lying is always wrong.

So is surrendering guaranteed victims to murderers.

What do you do when you are truly faced with no choice other than to lie outright?

In your scenario, one chooses the lessor of two evils.

One lies to save the life of the Jews, as their right to life supercedes the morality of telling the truth.

Nevertheless, lying remains wrong, always.

And even though the liar saved the Jews, if he is heart-centered and thus as equally connected to his soul’s feelings as his mind’s thoughts, he will still feel understandably ashamed and remorseful for lying.

But focusing on extremely rare scenarios of .00000001 percent exceptions is quite revealing. What those of you who are doing so are really saying is the way you voted in the poll: “that it is okay for me to lie about anything and everything at my whim”.

Your citing of extremes when you really mean “for any little reason in any little situation whatsoever” is most dishonest … and, of course, reflected as such by your poll answer.

Liars are who they are, and, they are obvious … :sunglasses:

… and, they are rarely trusted in true friendship. :astonished:

Your narcissism scores no points with me, Aporia.

Post something of value and I may respond to it.


What a wonderful euphemistic presentation of moral relativism.

Is that a quotation from Mein Kampf?

Please tell how you voted in the poll.

Jenny, have to hand it to you. Lying is always wrong. Everytime I lie I always end up somewhere uneasy. Knowledge is power, so when you lie or merely conceal your thoughts you’re taking power, pretty much. :wink:

I would contest that to say that it’s more useful to lie sometimes, but I believe it’s always wrong. Anyone who is good at lying knows that a well-constructed lie occasionally works wonders, like how often when fixing something duct tape works as well or better than a specialized professionally constructed tool. However, lying does produce bad effects and will limit you in your options later in regards to the thing that was lied about, possibly even in a situation that does not seem directly related to the original scenario that spawned the lie.

Please, define wrong.

Edit: Please do so without use of the word “right,” “good,” or “bad.”


I applaud your idealism, but your “my way or the highway” approach to other posters is over the top. You don’t like my opinion? Fine. You’ve managed to alienate a whole bunch of people with your attitude toward. By all means, continue and soon you’ll have no one disagreeing with you.

We have thus far seen “Thou shalt not murder” and “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. It is obvious that stealing is always wrong, adultery is always wrong, coveting is always wrong, having other gods before Jenny’s panentheistic god is always wrong, making idols is always wrong, and not honoring your father and mother is always wrong. I wonder, however, how Jenny will treat the remaining two commandments. Does her pantheistic god have a name (which may, in that case, not be used in vain)? Did it create the world in six days, take a rest on the seventh, and proclaim it holy therefore? So that it is always wrong not to remember it and keep it holy? I guess we shall see in due time.

That you think my disappointment in the abrupt end of an argument when I felt I had made an important point has anything to do with (a) me being narcissistic or (b) wanting to score points with you, is merely an act of (a) uncharitable arrogance and (b) narcissism on YOUR part.

I think you have some interesting philosophical ideas that are worth talking about. But I don’t want to fight with you, and I don’t want to talk to you if you are going to shower name-calling and contempt on me and my arguments every time we speak. You are heart-centered, right? So I am sure you have every capacity to be very civil and kind when you want to be. I apologize for anything I have said to offend you or mock your positions. I would like to have an intelligent conversation with you without being called a sophist, nazi, mental masturbator, heartless, etc. I feel that these labels take the focus away from the points being made and generally destroy the enjoyment we should derive from a good discussion. I observe from reading recent threads that many members share my sentiments.

What do you say, JennyHeart?

Politically, or even in personal life, some things must be hidden from people who will misjudge these things and use them against you. I think lies should come up when the audiance cannot handle the facts. Some persons will try to defeat the messenger if they cannot defeat the message. Lies are the foundations of many ideologies, beliefs, national opinions and even entire cultures. I can’t even begin to describe how many ‘untrue’ things that there are floating around in society. And if people were ever fully correct, then the world would not have the problems which it has. I clicked: “It doesn’t really matter”, because if no-one can prevent lies & human-stupidity, they should just not worry about it and view it as a statistic, just like earth-quake casualties and solar-flairs: events and facts of the local reality.

But if we had a completely honest society it would also be utopian, as most human exploit and self-destruction is due to distortion and dishonesty.