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 26 2012: USUALY truth is considered good/lying is bad because based on information - people make decisions. bad information = bad decisions. & usualy people lie/give bad info so another person makes a bad decision in the lying person's favor
    BUT IF you know a person's "decision making abilities" are flawed & by giving him bad info you lead him to a decision that's better for him... it's good or bad to lie?

    IF one lies to save a jew Hunted by nazis in Germany during Holocaust - is he good or bad?
    But if one lies to save a fugitive hunted by police in modern day USA is good or Bad?
    If one lies to save an afghan rebel hunted by the USA army for an attack on an USA camp in Afghanistan - is the liar good or bad?
    What if one lies to save an USA soldier hunted by rebels in the same Afghanistan? Is the lier good or bad?

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