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Is lying ever justified? Show more Show less
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“Lying’s bad.” There’s not a single child who hasn’t heard this phrase or some variation of it. We’re taught at a young age that the truth is important, that you shouldn’t lie, and yet lies slip off the tongue so easily, some small, others painful. If so, can they be justifiable?

Yes, lying is justified Show more Show less

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People in positions of power aren't always allowed to tell the truth

Those in power have bigger friends, but also stronger enemies. It's a coveted position people have that others long for. There are things in this world that are a need to know basis. A decision meant for the country or the entire world can not be answered instantly or with all the details they want.

The Argument

While no one likes to be lied to, there's an art to it, as well as a science. Children learn to do this around the age of four or five. It's not an ingrained talent that people are born with but something that takes awareness toddlers usually lack. To lie, one must be able to recognize and understand social rules and what happens when the rules are transgressed.[1] Lying might not be something people consider 'worth praise' but at the same time the truth is not always a luxury people can afford. Ethically people would say that lying is always wrong but sometimes lies are a necessity in the moment or long run. Sometimes lying is withholding the truth because in reality, some people 'can't handle the truth.'[2] It's strange to think of the truth being a luxury to tell but for some people that's exactly the case. The world of politics and power seem to be almost synonymous with scandals and lies but the truth, in some cases, is far too dangerous. Is someone supposed to answer with the truth when it puts people in danger? Is the president just supposed to give away sensitive information because it's been asked about? Is a child just supposed to be able to comprehend all the complications and politics that bring a country to war? Their words are a bit more eloquent when avoiding such questions and answers but they still lie about it because the truth is so much worse. The truth could put people in danger, and sometimes, the truth is just plain ugly that some people shouldn't hear about. Would people prefer a world where people didn't have to lie? Yes, but that's not the world we live in.

Counter arguments

Withholding the truth and outright lying are two very different things. They're often grouped together due to their nature of obscuring the truth but lying is a blatant disregard to the truth while withholding information might give away some, but not all of it. Lying in itself is always a complicated matter. Words have an effect on people, only bolstered by the tone, the emotion, and the people who say it. It gets even worse when people believe the lies spoken. The fallout alone could start riots if not outright wars. Many politicians would use this to excuse their lies.[3] That it's dangerous, that the truth could put people in danger. Rarely though are the questions asked so brazen as 'what are the nuclear missile launch codes.' The questions people ask those in power are 'what are you going to do?' People expect change, more often than not for the better. They expect justice and retribution, law and order. These questions aren't always answered and far too often they're met with placation's and lies.[4] For too long people in power have gotten away with telling lies. Lies they try justify with their greed and desire for power. Out of everyone, the people who should be the most transparent are the ones who affect and control peoples lives. It's not justifiable to lie when you shouldn't lie to begin with.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Politicians lie to avoid giving out dangerous information [P2]

Rejecting the premises

[PR1] Omitting and withholding dangerous information is different from lying [PR2] As a person in power that effects the general populace truth should be a main concern, not placation

References

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-art-of-lying/
  2. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/06/lying-hoax-false-fibs-science/
  3. https://theconversation.com/3-reasons-why-people-fall-for-politicians-lies-about-statistics-110014
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/opinion/campaign-stops/all-politicians-lie-some-lie-more-than-others.html
This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 05:23 UTC

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