When Lying Is the Ethical Thing to Do, And When There Is Too Much of It
Mark Twain had little patience for purists who insisted that the slightest lie was an offense to God and would send you straight to Hell. Part I of this column relates the cautionary example of a Twain short story and adds two more examples, all designed to persuade doubters that lying provides important social benefits. Telling a lie often is the ethical thing to do. Part II considers socially unbeneficial lies and how much to tolerate them. Look into this part also for a sampling of the surprising research on the benefits of trust. The moral of the story, I think, is this: some dishonesty is good for us, while some bad dishonesty must be tolerated,but that is much less now that we know the importance of trust. Trust is uncanny.
Folland, Sherman T. "When Lying Is the Ethical Thing to Do, And When There Is Too Much of It" Oakland Journal 18. (2010). 5-13
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