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Honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice.

-Ayn Rand -

Positively. The punishment for the habitual liar (aside from possible legal actions) is being disbelieved. Remember the Boy who Cried Wolf once too often? If one wishes to be believed by others, he should be truthful.

Ba'al Chataf

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I agree with Jordan here, my personal feelings on this have evolved toward being annoyed at people who I feel compelled to lie to, and generally to begin to remove these people from my life. If I have a friend who wants to hang out, and I don't want to, the fact that I would feel inclined AT ALL to LIE to them, means they do not fundamentally respect me as a individual sentient being with my own wants, desires, preferences, and instead just a audience for them. I should be able to say I am just not in the mood. It's my life, as a friend, they ought to respect that, as I would for them.

Same here. I don't have a problem saying, "No, I'm tired and I'd really like to be alone and read a book tonight."

If someone asks me, "Does this dress make me look fat?" they'd better be looking for an honest answer. I'd expect nothing less if I asked the question, and wouldn't ask it if I didn't want one.

Regarding, "Am I cuter than Stuart?" my answer is likely to be, "No, but who cares?" :)


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If someone asks me, "Does this dress make me look fat?" they'd better be looking for an honest answer. I'd expect nothing less if I asked the question, and wouldn't ask it if I didn't want one.

On a similar point, Diana Hsieh (before she became Dyin' O'Shame) gave a talk at an IOS (before it became TOC before it became TAS) Summer Seminar. She made the point that when her Aunt Maggie asks "Do I look good?" she's not asking if she looks like Jennifer Lopez, she's asking if she looks good with respect to herself. So, one isn't lying when one responds positively.

On the "Does this dress make me look fat?" question. My wife asks me this all the time and I ask her the same. Of course I want an honest answer.

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Essentially, you're asking about honesty and the necessity of being rude, mean, impolite, etc. It's an important question. I do not think that being honest requires me to be rude. In my experience, there is always a gentle way to tell the truth.

If a friend suggests you get together a particular evening, and you're simply not in the mood to see him -- do you tell him so?

Yes, I do. I say it in a way that I know they will understand and not be hurt by.

If an acquaintance suggests it, and you don't particularly like him or find him interesting and therefore you don't care to spend an evening with him -- do you tell him so?

No, I don't tell them that I don't like them. I tell them that I can't make the date they propose and hope they get the message. If they persist, however, I will have to find a way to tell them that I'm not interested.

If a date says, "This has been a wonderful evening. Did you enjoy it, too?" -- and in fact you were bored stiff, do you say so?

Here I would find a gentle way of saying that I didn't enjoy myself. After all, if the point of the date is a potential romantic partner, honesty is paramount from the beginning.

Jordan, I'm not suggesting that one should be rude or mean or cruel. Anything but. I'm suggesting that when one frames one's responses to these questions in a kinder way than one thinks them, one is surely at least skirting the truth. For instance, when you say "I can't make the date you propose" to a man you don't care to see, now or ever, you are suggesting something that is not true -- that is, that if you could make the date, you would. And to the boring date who asks, "Did you enjoy the evening" -- a "gentle way" of saying you didn't enjoy it sounds to me like an impossibility. My point is that it often would be cruel to say what one thinks, and that when we shade our actual reasons, when do not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in these sorts of instances, we are being quite properly kind.


Let's please keep in mind that noone has the right to the contents of our minds. I'm not under oath every time I encounter someone on the street or wherever. That sort of ideal shouldn't be presumed when we engage others. This is human custom. However, this doesn't allow us to be flippant with the truth or abuse people. To respond to your hypothetical example in regard to a date one doesn't find interesting when she says "I had a lovely evening, didn't you?" It is sufficient to say "It was ok."

Or when a woman dresses in front of you and asks, "does this dress make me look fat?" A skilled honest man will simply say, "I think the red dress makes you look thinner" or some such. This social skill is not difficult and is easy to practice. It is congruentt with truthfulness yet polite.

This isn't a lie and it's not cruel. Presumably if the man was such a directly sincere or honest person and the date was TRULY horrible (for objective reasons such as her spending the evening berating him or men in general out of some crazed misanthropic state) (Thankfully, I've never been on a date like this but bear with me in the thought experiment) He would have excused himself well prior to the "I had a lovely evening" comment.

Lying is the communication to others with the intent to deceive. This assumes that what you are communicating is something that you believe to be false at the time you make the statement or communication.

I've never encountered an example of 'lying' that does not fit into that definition.

Edited by RTB
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  • 3 weeks later...

When someone asks "am I fat" and another says "no" is the other lying? What's the standard? It's impossible for "no" to be considered a true statement for the person asking the question, if that person is anorexic (for example).

In my view to lie means to purposefully describe a fact which is not sensually observable as if it actually is.

Asking "am I fat?" or "did you have a good time?" are emotion based questions and as such are asking for an opinion.

Edited by UncleJim
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