MORE IDEAS FROM Lying by Sam Harris | Issue 110 | Philosophy Now
Skillful truth-avoiding is the evasive tactic of withholding one’s actual feelings by instead inserting a less relevant, albeit true, statement, and is far from being honest.
It is essentially to replace a lie of commission with a lie of omission.
Although Harris rails against active lies in this book, he fails to acknowledge that ‘skillful truth-telling’ is nothing more than lying by another name.
Harris implies throughout his essay that truth and honesty should prevail in all instances of human interaction,including those who employ ‘white lies’ to protect people from uncomfortable realities and unnecessary harm.
The truth-teller is a kind of liberator, rescuing the deluded individual from his protective fantasies.
Those who employ white lies in an effort to benefit others are demonstrating the “quintessence of arrogance” since in such cases the liar assumes he knows what truths can be handled by the other person.
Harris assumes that the beneficiary of these truth statements is themselves blind to reality.
Sam Harris’s major, and dubious, assumption, is that complete honesty is possible.
The concept of unconscious motives or maladaptive psychological underpinnings that we can know nothing about, or of ‘bad faith’ (a form of self-deceit), are not considered in Harris’s analysis.
Since we are then all liars by nature, the best course of action is only to lie in ways that are intended to promote another’s well being.
We think philosophy has a role to play in identifying and correcting the disconnect between perception and reality with regard to politicians’ trustworthiness. By providing a theory of lying and truthfulness that is sensitive to lived experience, philosophers can help people to avoid talking past one another, when discussing such important issues.
While body language cues can offer clues to deceptions, it is often not good enough. More accurate signals are:
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