TED Conversations

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 24 2012: I think these choices must be/are made subcounceously, based on the knowledge that not all things are best said (Now that is something completely different to lying though, and some people -want- others hurt or dead). I guess the alpha factor in this task must be knowledge.

    That should indicate we should improve knowledge on how information can, at worst, hurt or kill people (though the information never had the ability to kill.. hmmmmm..Perhaps the people doing the killing are the real problem, not the information about political choices from the past../the one cheating on his wife is guilty, not the one telling his wife what he did..)

    Maybe we should have a bit more focus on moral and ethics from primary school and all the way to the workplace.. (and maybe, just maybe lots of parents are personally responsible for morally questionable attitudes from their children.

    We should learn to controll our moral aspect in our brain, and how to manipulate it according to the situations we are in in a better way than our newbee methods of today. Thats the only way I can see people taking more responsibility on this subject.

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