The Truth About Honesty - Deepstash
The Truth About Honesty

The Truth About Honesty

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.

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MORE IDEAS FROM Lying by Sam Harris | Issue 110 | Philosophy Now

  • Lies of commission. The liar is active in his or her attempt to deceive.
    Example: A job applicant falsifying his credentials in an effort to land a desired position.
  • Lies of omission. This is a passive act, involving a person’s failure to do something.
    Example: A job applicant is neglecting to list on his resume the job from which he was fired.

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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.

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The central thesis of Sam Harris's book, Lying (2013)
You should not lie. 

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.

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A Brutal Liberation

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.

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To lie is to sacrifice your integrity, and to place the possibility of deep and meaningful bonds with fellow humans at risk.

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RELATED IDEA

Types of lies
  • White Lies. People tell white lies claiming to be tactful or polite.
  • Broken Promises. Failure to keep one’s spoken commitment or promise.
  • The Lie of Fabrication. Telling others something you don’t know for sure is true.
  • The Bold-Faced Lie. Telling something that everyone knows is a lie.
  • The Lying in Exaggeration. Enhancing a truth by adding lies to it.
  • Lies of Deception. A deceiver tries to create an impression that causes others to be misled, by not telling all the facts, or by creating a false impression.
  • Plagiarism. Copying someone else’s work and calling it your own.
  • Compulsive Lying.  Tell their mistruths even when telling the truth would be easier and better.

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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 anotherwhen discussing such important issues.

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Body Language

While body language cues can offer clues to deceptions, it is often not good enough. More accurate signals are:

  • Intentionally leaving out important details.
  • If the person seems unsure or insecure.
  • Shrugging, lack of expression, and a bored posture.
  • Thinking too hard to fill in the details of the story.

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