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Dutchess_III's avatar

Is lying always wrong?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42261points) December 7th, 2017

In my college psychology class I was introduced to the idea that lying is not always wrong. The professor gave us the following scenario to prove it:

Someone starts beating frantically at your door. You open it up to find a very young girl there, frantic and terrified. She tells you a man has been holding her captive for 2 days and she just managed to escape. However, he discovered that she’d escaped and he was hot on her heels and could she hide in your house.
You let her in and stick her in a closet.
Soon after a “nice,” well groomed man comes knocking and ask if you’ve seen his “daughter” or “niece” or whatever.
Do you tell the truth, or do you lie?

That little exercise was a real eye opener for me.

A lie is not always wrong. If it’s being told for a higher purpose, then telling the truth would be the wrong thing to do.

By the same reasoning, stealing is not always wrong, either. Or cheating. Or killing someone.

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9 Answers

MrGrimm888's avatar

It’s as subjective as many other human behaviors.

Short answer is No. As I’ve said before, as far as my grandmother knows, I’m a devout Christian. The truth would wound her deeply. I even pray for her, when she asks me to. Although I doubt it carries much weight with god, as I stumble through the prayers, and frequently mention that I’m probably talking to myself, instead of a deity…

Lying is a tool in our belt, best used infrequently.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good one @MrGrimm888. When I’m in a setting and some one wants to say grace, I bow my head, and even say “Amen.” It’s a lie.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Dutch. Amen sister!

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Amen!” And I burst into flame. But that’s OK because it’s cold!

MrGrimm888's avatar

LOL! Yeah. I wouldn’t stand to close, when I’m saying amen. You know, lightning and all…

flutherother's avatar

I was told many years ago that there are two kinds of lies, white lies which are OK and black lies which are not OK but it isn’t always clear what the difference is.

Zaku's avatar

What is right or wrong is a moral opinion.

Only peculiarly constrained moral codes define lying as always wrong.

It seems to me that the people with rigid moral codes that assert lying is always wrong, tend to be most likely to be the ones whom it’s more frequently going to be wise in my moral code to lie to. (I’m thinking of hyper-judgmental types.)

LostInParadise's avatar

The philosopher Immanuel Kant said that lying is always wrong. Many other philosophers disagree. My feeling is that if you are in a position where you cannot avoid doing something wrong then you should choose the lesser of the two evils. In the example you give, it is morally more reprehensible not to protect the girl than to lie about housing her.

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