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White Lies

Discussion in 'Ethics and Morals' started by 839311, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. 839311

    839311 Well-Known Member

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    Are white lies acceptable to make? Is it ok to lie when it seems like lying will actually have either more of a positive effect or less of a negative effect? Under what circumstances are white lies acceptable to make?
     
  2. Kathryn

    Kathryn Most Spoiled Woman Ever

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    Telling the truth at the expense of others is usually based in selfishness. What I mean by that is that though we should be basically truthful, we are not bound to tell the WHOLE truth, the BRUTAL truth, just to hurt someone. That is an example of whitewashing "being truthful" when one is really just trying to hurt another person.

    But I do believe that lying should be avoided if possible. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive," has a lot of truth to it. Usually the truth is less complicated than a lie.

    It's really not that hard to figure out. If you're lying just to save your own skin, then your motives may not be good, and you should probably either tell the truth, or just shut up. If your friend says, "How does this shirt look on me?" and it looks like crap, you can always say, "Wow, that's some shirt - when did you get it? How much was it?" If they say, "I got it at the Gap and it was on sale for $9.99!" then you may want to say, "Well, honestly...I like some of your other shirts better." But if they say, "I've been saving for months to buy this shirt and I finally was able to do it - I just love it!" then you can say something like, "Well, I am so glad you're happy about it - isn't it great to splurge sometimes on something!"

    Both statements are true.

    Now - if they are going to wear it on a first date, and you know they've got more attractive shirts, you may want to give them some additional advice!

    Remember - sometimes people ask baited questions, just to SEE if you will tell them the truth. Not that I agree with that tactic, but it's out there. Best to be as truthful as possible, without harming others.
     
  3. 839311

    839311 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. But when there is going to be harm to others, whereas if you were to lie there would be no harm, then it might be better to lie. Why cause harm to others when it can be avoided? I fully understand the virtue of honesty, and in a perfect world honesty would be the right thing always. But in our world, I think white lies are acceptable at times, depending on the circumstances.
     
  4. Wicked Witch

    Wicked Witch New Member

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    Tact has never been my strong point, sadly. I think I could have saved myself a world of hurt in my younger years if I just learned to tell little white lies and stop being such a blunt brat.
     
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  5. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member
    It's My Birthday!

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    White lies are necessary to maintain civility. If everyone were wholly, brutally 200% honest no one would like anyone.
     
  6. Alceste

    Alceste Vagabond

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    I consider my motive before telling a white lie. If my motive is cowardice, I face down my fears and tell the truth. For example, taking a day off work I will always tell the truth about my reasons because the only motive I can think of for exaggerating or making stuff up is fear of the disapproval of my "superiors". Although "just not feeling up to it" or "going camping" comes as a bit of a shock to some employers, it's never cost me a job and in many cases it's gained me a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness.

    On the other hand, when somebody shows me their first painting or plays their first tune I always tell them I am terribly impressed with some aspect of it, even when the product has no redeeming qualities. My motive is simply to make them feel good enough to continue to practice, which hopefully will result in less horrific offerings next time.
     
  7. Kathryn

    Kathryn Most Spoiled Woman Ever

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    "Thank you for the copy of your book. I'll waste no time reading it."
     
  8. Aqualung

    Aqualung Tasty

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    Same here. I have no filter. I always think if somebody asks me my opinion, that they actually want to know my opinion. Of course, that's the two-way road of honesty. Don't ask a question if you don't honestly want to know the answer.
     
  9. MissAlice

    MissAlice Well-Known Member

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    I always had trouble with this as well. I'm not very good with those "unwritten social rules" where it is more acceptable when someone asks you, "How are you?".....and you're suppose to say "fine" or "good" with a fake smile unless you're really having fine or good day.
     
  10. Kathryn

    Kathryn Most Spoiled Woman Ever

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    What's wrong with this exchange?

    "How are you?"

    "Well, I've been better - but that's a whole other story. How have YOU been?'

    The point of etiquette (and that's really what we're talking about here) should never be fakery or an effort to impress someone else. It should always be the comfort or ease of THE OTHER PERSON.

    Now - if they really want to hear about your ovarian cyst, then they'll ask for more details. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

    Of course, you can say that they're hypocritical when they ask "How are you?" and don't really want to hear the answer, but since when is it your job to correct them? You can't be responsible for their actions - you can only be responsible for your own. Just because they may be less than sincere doesn't give you the automatic right to lambast them for it - especially when they're probably just trying to be pleasant.

    Besides that - they may really WANT to know how you're doing - they may not just want to hear every gory detail in the first five minutes of your joint conversation.

    Just be kind. Is it really that hard?
     
  11. MissAlice

    MissAlice Well-Known Member

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    You really assume I'm being unkind....:rolleyes:

    Growing up as a child I never really grasped the etiquette of social rules. It isn't about trying to correct people or trying to be rude. In fact if anything I try to steer from the extreme whenever anyone wants an "honest" answer like if they were to ask "How do I look?"....well I'm smart enough not to tell them what I really think.
     
    #11 MissAlice, Aug 7, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
  12. Aqualung

    Aqualung Tasty

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    That's why you should always take what they say at face value. I can't be sure that they are being shallow or hypocritical when they ask "How are you". That's why I shouldn't lie as a response by just saying "fine" if I'm not. At least I should say "I don't really want to talk about it", but I shouldn't assume their intentions.

    Since I can't know their intentions and I can't change their actions, I should always assume the best, eg that they're being honest in their question.

    And that's why if I tell them how I'm doing, and they get mad that they have to stand there and listen to something more than just "fine", it's 100% their fault.
     
  13. Kathryn

    Kathryn Most Spoiled Woman Ever

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    Aqua, I just hope when someone asks, "How have you been?" you're not one of those obnoxious people who jump off into a ten minute litany of minutia - or feel some compulsion to share an overload of personal details with someone who was merely being polite.

    If you really haven't been "fine," then certainly don't lie about it. But there's a gentle, thoughtful place somewhere between "Fine" and, "Yeah well you asked so here goes I've really had a rough coupla months first of all my dog got run over and i was seriously depressed about that for awhile and then about the time i got over that my uncle came down with lung cancer and my whole family has really been upset about that and my mom is crying all the time and she's spending so much time at the hospital that my dad and i are having to try to do everything around the house by ourselves so my dad started getting online more and more and hooked up with his high school sweetheart who really seems to understand his needs better than my mom and so now I'm torn between the needs of both my parents and now to make matters worse my girlfriend gave me a case of genital warts and it had to be from her because I haven't slept with anyone else unless you count that one crazy girl from the club a few weeks ago but that was only one time and my girlfriend has been acting pretty weird now that i think about it for months now and she never did tell me where she got that necklace she's been wearing 24/7 and all this stress has been causing me to lose my concentration at work so now I've been written up twice and I'm really afraid I'm going to lose my job andifthathappensIjustdontknowwhatiwilldoallthis dramaisgivingmeconstantmigraines. But hey, enough about me - how have YOU been? Really? Great - and you know what, I've just about decided to quit this gig and take a job out of state. I was looking at job openings the other day and...where are you going? Uhhh...it's been great talking to you...what a jerk..."
     
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  14. 839311

    839311 Well-Known Member

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    In my own experience, when someone asks me how are you I am generally inclinded to say 'good', or 'doing ok' at worst. Although, I have found that some people respond negatively to 'ok'. They will say, "just 'ok'"? Then I'll respond by saying whats wrong with 'ok', lol. I like ok. Its not good, but its not bad either. Its just average, I guess. If Im feeling bad, I almost always keep that to myself. I don't like to tell people I feel bad because I think it might bring them down too. I also think people have enough problems in their own life that they shouldn't have other peoples problems to think about.
     
    #14 839311, Aug 7, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
  15. Aqualung

    Aqualung Tasty

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    I'm not; I'm a very guarded person. It will be either "fine", "alright", or "not too good".

    And that's my biggest problem. Why is it "polite" to ask strangers about how their life has been if you don't really want to know? First off, you don't know them that well - it's really none of your business how they have been. But if you really want to probe that deeply into their life, you better get ready to have them answer you.

    (I'm thinking of people like cashiers, or maybe your neighbour who you only see if you happen to both pull in to the driveway at the same time. If your friends are only asking how you've been to "merely be polite" then what are they your friends for?)

    Lol agreed. "Yes, only ok. It's not like I won the lottery. It is just another monotonous day in my monotonous life, exactly like yesterday and sure to be exactly like tomorrow."
     
  16. BadBeast

    BadBeast Active Member

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    Observing social niceties, and having Manners, are one of the only things that allow us to live among each other without tearing each other apart. When someone asks how you are, you know they don't really care how you are. And they know that you know this. It's function is to show that, even though they couldn't really give a rat's arse about you and your life, they are prepared to spend a little effort to make you feel like they do care.

    And likewise, you say something like, "Oh, could be better, can't complain though" in response, because you are thoughtful enough to show them that you're tacitly acknowledging their effort to make you feel at ease. It's called small talk, and in this way we all rub along together, more or less.
    Manners will take you a long way, even among people who actually loath you. As long as the correct formalities are observed, everyone is comfortable. No-one has to deviate from the niceties, or take issue with someone else, as long as we remember our Manners.
    In this way, mutual tolerance is possible, even among enemies. Social etiquette is essential to our species. Diplomacy is a safeguard against violence, when all else fails. It's only words, a kind of Magical system of mutually acceptable behaviour. Everyone knows it's ********, but it's a necessary part of interacting with other Humans, who after all, might hate the very sight of you, but they don't want to fight, or start a feud.
     
  17. tomato1236

    tomato1236 Ninja Master

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    When right to lie, lie, and when it's wrong to lie, don't.
     
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