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Can morality be based off of lies?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Jeremiah, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    I would think honesty, to others and especially to oneself, would be a fundamental aspect of being moral. That lies and deception could inadvertently skew judgment on what was the more moral path. What do you think?
     
  2. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    No, I don't believe so. It can, however be based on misinformation/ flawed reasoning. Not quite the same thing.
     
  3. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    I think a fundamental respect for what's true is the root of morality. Honesty, however, is a tool that can be used morally and immorally.
     
  4. no-body

    no-body Well-Known Member

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    Sure, if your intended audience is deceitful and stupid. It's way easier than actually trying to fix the root causes in society.
     
  5. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    But if you don't fix the root of the problem the you have not really fixed anything at all, you just threw a temporary band-aid over it. And by not fixing these problems, then really, it would seem to me, that you just ensured that they will reoccur later down the road.
     
  6. Onkara

    Onkara Well-Known Member

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    Hi
    Yes, being honest to oneself is fundamental I would say. Initially perhaps people do not know how to be fundamentally honest so look to sources outside themselves for that moral path. This is the point where it may become skewed. Later this moral path may prove to be a lie.

    In my opinion a lie by definition is a lie when is shown not to be true sooner or later. Before then it can be taken to be true.

    So really we may inadvertently mis-judge but sooner or later truth becomes known.

    For example, people can harm others whilst believing it is morally correct to do so, but later they may find their morals grounds are no longer true and hence a lie e.g. Nazi Germany.
     
  7. ChristineES

    ChristineES Tiggerism
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    Since my morality is based on how I was raised, I don't see how it could be a lie. But, that said, I think it has more to do with the individual than what it is based on. :)
     
  8. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    You can't get to the truth without honesty.
     
  9. ManTimeForgot

    ManTimeForgot Temporally Challenged

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    Can the moral option ever be to lie? Almost assuredly. There are situations where we do not have the resources or the intelligence to see an option which allows for truth telling and also minimizing harm done.


    But can morality itself be predicated on a falsehood? I am pretty sure that the question borders on nonsense. How can you base a system on a falsehood in the first place? Would that mean that your ideology was the systemic equivalent of a ponzi scheme? Wouldn't the first chance you tried to apply your morality scheme necessarily result in false choices?


    A better question I think is to ask whether or not honesty is a requirement for Morality (or any given morality system). I don't think it is a necessary component, though I will venture out by saying that I think it is in actuality a component. A utilitarian is not required to denote honesty as a virtue, nor practice it as an everyday feature of their life. You can speak normally with people without resorting to blatant falsehood nor unvarnished truth. But as a matter of "social glue" I suspect that honesty can and should be valued. If people lied as a default position, then people wouldn't trust each other enough to cooperate on work. This is demonstrably bad.

    MTF
     
  10. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    " I think it has more to do with the individual than what it is based on."

    I think a good-hearted fool is still a fool.
     
  11. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    Right, but honesty can be something internal or expressed externally. I can be aware of a situation where being dishonest to someone is more beneficial than being honest. There are often multiple levels or aspects of truth to consider in life.
     
  12. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    " I can be aware of a situation where being dishonest to someone is more beneficial than being honest."

    I personally try not to think I know what is best for others. I make suggestions and withhold information if I think they might not have the right to hear it from me. The lying that I do (which is very little), I do out of selfishness, to make some situations in my life easier. Like sometimes I lie about my sexuality for the sake of simplicity.

    Lying to someone for the sake of morality however is a different thing and it can have some very bad side effects. It is better to be open and honest, to help them understand for themselves and think for themselves, instead of you deciding you should do the thinking for them. Too much unintended evil goes on in this world by good intentions mixed with deception and ignorance.

    Also honesty is the foundation of trust, lying to someone can destroy this trust and I believe that trust is a much better way to help people get on the right path then deception.
     
  13. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    I wish you luck on your endeavor in life to always be completely honest regardless of the complexities of the situation or the resulting consquences of such a policy.
     
  14. Songbird

    Songbird She rules her life like a bird in flight

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    We all lie probably much more than we realize. The most common are peace-keeping lies - to Grandma when she gives a gift we don't like, to anyone whose feelings we want to spare.
     
  15. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    This thread is about morality being based off lies; it is not about the value of honesty in all and every situation in life.
     
  16. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    Point of clarification: Does the person developing the morality have to be the liar?
     
  17. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    Exactly, there are often multiple levels of truth and honesty that apply to most situations. Weighing the outcomes of these different truths is part of the process of finding the most moral result. Painting things as black and white is rarely the best recipe for morality.
     
  18. ChristineES

    ChristineES Tiggerism
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    I don't see how anyone who is goodhearted can possibly be a fool. But that is just me. Some people are just misled, but it doesn't make them a fool. :eek::)
     
  19. Oneatatime

    Oneatatime Huh?

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    It's possible to come to the right answer for the wrong reasons so yes I do think that morality can be achieved through lies. Actually when you think about it much of human morality is based on a lie because we like to think that we're better than we actually are and so the ideal moral human which some aim to be is completely fictional because no such being exists.
     
  20. Vega

    Vega Avenger

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    So, would this apply to everyone? Once you say yes I immediately question its validity. Think of someone with a different mindset; perhaps a sociopath, for example. Would their honest decisions make their actions moral?
     
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