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Jean-Charles Longuet

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Telling the truth: are there limits?

Two recent talks focused on "Truth" as something good/moral. Practically, however, some information may cause havoc: the Wikileaks diplomatic data disclosure, for example, coulad have put some people at risk.

How should we manage the decision to disclose (or not) such information? Or manage the moral dilemma when telling a lie may have a positive outcome?

[update 2012/11/25] The conversation initially mixed a few things : Truth is something that is not as obvious as it seems, and Lies are more related to a deceiving/manipulative intention that to the hiding of some Truth.

Anyway, all points of views are welcome.


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  • Nov 12 2012: "Telling a lie may have a positive outcome"? For whom? In whose opinion?
    Lying is never acceptable.
    Lying distorts reality and prevents those decieved from making accurate decisions based on sound facts.
    In the interest of national security, one must always make a decision based on the assumption that at some point, the facts might/will become public. In which case, will the end justify the means?
    If one functions from a position of honesty, one tends to function with a moral compass that ultimately benefits everyone.
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      Nov 12 2012: " Lying is never acceptable. "

      Imagine you're hiding someone in your house because they are searched by people wanting to kill them. They knock your door and ask if that person is in your house. Won't you lie ? I suppose you will because your moral compass will balance the consequences of your lie with the positive outcome.

      Of course, the example is extreme, but realistic. I am unsure whether or not we can find a "safe path" to find the correct limit about an acceptable lie and an unacceptable one.
      • Nov 12 2012: That's a difficult question. It seems to me those that are most effective liars are those that are well practiced. So in other words, I am a terrible liar and would not want someone to entrust their life to my incompetence.
        I probably wouldn't answer the door. :o
      • Nov 13 2012: Imagine you sleeping in the Dog house for telling your wife she looks fat in the new red dress ...

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