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Tabor Williams

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If you tell a lie and it becomes the truth, does it matter that you once lied?

In the way that some people questions whether or not the ends justify the means, I'm wondering if you tell a lie and it becomes the truth, does it matter that you once lied?

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Closing Statement from Tabor Williams

Thanks for all the participation and discussion everyone!

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    Nov 17 2012: I consider that the lie is "the delivery of an information that is knowingly incorrect/misleading". So it depends of the liar's perception/representation of reality. I you decided to lie, you cannot argue that the information bacame true : you moral decision is in the past and the future cannot change it, that would be too easy : after all, "on the long-term, we're all dead", so no decision matter ? If you provided wrong information while believing it to be correct, it's not a lie.

    Now, you cannot make the lie vanish, but "does it matter" is another point. You can consider the outcome of the lie and fell that things are better now than if you had not told it, but that's a strict act-utilitarian point of view. If you are more sensitive to the moral wrongness that to the issue, you'll regret it forever. That said, if you lied, that mean that you allowed it to yourself and you're not in this case...

    "You should never lie, except on exceptions." is the paradox for most of us...
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      Nov 17 2012: So then regardless of what happens after the lie, the only moment that matters is when you tell the lie?
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        Nov 18 2012: Do not mix two things :
        - the act of lying
        - the consequences of your lie.

        The act by itself cannot be undone. You decided to deceive someone, and that decision was yours. So that will stay as a fact in your mind.

        Now, the consequences are something else : there may be good consequences that you expected and morally compensate your lie (if you lied to avoid someone's death, I consider it as perfectly ok in my moral system). There may be other consequences like self-interest, that are less morally eligible to compensate the lie. There may be unexpected consequences that you may feel very responsible for because your lie (strangely, we are less guilty about the consequences of speaking the truth).

        So to sum up : yes, the only moment that matters is when you tell the lie. After that, it's all about how you can handle it...

        By the way, there is a debate regarding lies where you may find some matter too :
        http://www.ted.com/conversations/14890/telling_the_truth_are_there_l.html

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