An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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prof
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An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by prof » Sat May 11, 2013 8:32 am

I would argue that "honesty" is a central concept for Ethics.

Applying the three basic dimensions of value, S, E, and I, which among other uses are tools of analysis, here is the (preliminary) result:

Systemic; {The legal consideration} An individual says to himself "I'd better be honest in this situation or else I'll be committing a crime." "I don't want to risk going to jail, so I choose honesty."

Extrinsic: {A prudential decision} "Honesty is in my best interest. I want a life with as few regrets as possible. So I'll go along with that old saying 'Honesty is the best policy.'"

Intrinsic: {Ethical} "I am ethically-committed to being honest. I want always to tell the truth, but I might - under certain extreme (and rather rare) circumstances - tell a lie ...only to save a life. I want to squeeze every drop of joy and value out of life; lying will mess it up.

I don't want to hurt anyone, so I will strive to creatively frame my response to a direct question so that if necessary it is evasive but true. I intend sincerely to speak the truth. I want to use words that heal not words that harm."

["Truth", as you know, was analyzed in End Note 4 of the first part of the Unified Theory of Ethics, a link to which was given in earlier threads I wrote.]


Comments? Improvements?

Impenitent
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by Impenitent » Sat May 11, 2013 5:23 pm

honesty is double plus good!

-Imp

prof
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by prof » Sat May 11, 2013 7:20 pm

Impenitent wrote:honesty is double plus good!

-Imp
Yes, Imp, you are right about that. Thanks. Another argument for honesty is this:

Moral growth is encouraged by accurate feedback. If you are honest with a friend who asks you for an opinion you may be aiding in his/her moral development ... if you frame it right.

At least, by speaking truth, you are a good role-model for others.

I never before stressed the honest way-of-life in anything I wrote, but it turns out to be what many, if not most, of the world's population think of when you ask them What does it mean to be ethical?

zooky
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by zooky » Sun May 12, 2013 3:24 am

prof wrote:I would argue that "honesty" is a central concept for Ethics.




Comments? Improvements?
Its certainly right up there, but central?
I would argue that the central point of ethics is "best outcome" there are circumstances where honesty can destroy someones livelihood or even life.
Sometimes the ethical thing to do is lie.

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SpheresOfBalance
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Sun May 12, 2013 3:38 pm

prof wrote:I would argue that "honesty" is a central concept for Ethics.

Applying the three basic dimensions of value, S, E, and I, which among other uses are tools of analysis, here is the (preliminary) result:

Systemic; {The legal consideration} An individual says to himself "I'd better be honest in this situation or else I'll be committing a crime." "I don't want to risk going to jail, so I choose honesty."

Extrinsic: {A prudential decision} "Honesty is in my best interest. I want a life with as few regrets as possible. So I'll go along with that old saying 'Honesty is the best policy.'"

Intrinsic: {Ethical} "I am ethically-committed to being honest. I want always to tell the truth, but I might - under certain extreme (and rather rare) circumstances - tell a lie ...only to save a life. I want to squeeze every drop of joy and value out of life; lying will mess it up.

I don't want to hurt anyone, so I will strive to creatively frame my response to a direct question so that if necessary it is evasive but true. I intend sincerely to speak the truth. I want to use words that heal not words that harm."

["Truth", as you know, was analyzed in End Note 4 of the first part of the Unified Theory of Ethics, a link to which was given in earlier threads I wrote.]


Comments? Improvements?
Honesty keeps one grounded in reality. The more one is dishonest, the more they become confused, (insane), as how they are viewed, treated, think of themselves, etc., is at odds with what it is, that is contained in their subconscious. That of honesty simply is, to run from it leaves you where? Honesty is all there is, everything else is simply a lie, a falsehood. But I guess some want to waste their lives in a world of make believe, though it seems a waste to me. I only ever want to see clearly!

prof
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by prof » Mon May 13, 2013 7:26 am

Greetings, SpheresOfBalance

You answered zooky very well in your good post. Spot on !

I would only add this:

More discussion on tie topics of honesty and lying, with scenarios from life, are to be found in the booklet, Living The Good Life, pp. 40-42, a link to which is offered HERE: http://wadeharvey.myqol.com/wadeharvey/ ... _Lifef.pdf

The discussion begins with a lady named Laurie arguing for zooky's position that "an honest lie" (by which she means what is commonly called "a white lie") is at times appropriate. The lead author of the booklet proceeds to refute that position by showing alternatives. Also, given some thought there is the the example of 'Anne Frank hiding inside a house with the Nazis at the door asking direct questions about the whereabouts of Jews,' A possible solution is offered to that dilemma as to how to save a life ...without telling lies.

Another reason for Honesty is a person's reputation in the circles in which s/he moves. Maintaining one's credibility is very important if one is to be a person of good character. As you know, that is what Ethics recommends as a way to live an ethical life.

duszek
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by duszek » Mon May 13, 2013 6:41 pm

zooky wrote:
prof wrote:I would argue that "honesty" is a central concept for Ethics.




Comments? Improvements?
Its certainly right up there, but central?
I would argue that the central point of ethics is "best outcome" there are circumstances where honesty can destroy someones livelihood or even life.
Sometimes the ethical thing to do is lie.
Yes, truth can be a fatal blow for some of us.

How many of us lie to ourselves because our egos are too weak to bear the naked truth ?

And what is truth really ?
Most of the time people stick to an explanation and believe that it is the truth (they honestly believe it) but no explanation, no matter how detailed and exhaustive, is the whole truth.

duszek
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by duszek » Mon May 13, 2013 6:44 pm

A lie is much easier to identify than "truth".

When the little red riding hood asks the woolf: Are you my grandma ? and the woolf says: yes, then this is a clear case of a lie.

Truth is more difficult to discern and to nail.

Affirmation is more difficult to discern and to nail than a negation.

prof
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by prof » Tue May 14, 2013 7:57 am

Let's be careful not to obfuscate (muddy up) the concept "Honesty" by conflating it with the concept "Truth."

Professional magicians deceive for purposes of entertainment. Does this mean that we can accuse them of not being honest persons? It would not be just to do so. Some are very honest; some may not be.

You know when you're being honest, and when you are outright lying. ...unless you have a severe case of neurotic denial. Pathological cases are the exception, not the rule.

The analysis in the o.p. still stands.

Impenitent
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by Impenitent » Tue May 14, 2013 9:50 am

prof wrote:
Impenitent wrote:honesty is double plus good!

-Imp
Yes, Imp, you are right about that. Thanks. Another argument for honesty is this:

Moral growth is encouraged by accurate feedback. If you are honest with a friend who asks you for an opinion you may be aiding in his/her moral development ... if you frame it right.

At least, by speaking truth, you are a good role-model for others.

I never before stressed the honest way-of-life in anything I wrote, but it turns out to be what many, if not most, of the world's population think of when you ask them What does it mean to be ethical?
I'm certain that your Ministry of Truth will provide accurate feedback.

-Imp

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The Voice of Time
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by The Voice of Time » Tue May 14, 2013 6:20 pm

Should a person be honest when it does not necessarily benefit a situation and the situation is an extreme one?

For instance. While virtually everybody will agree that if you are hiding a person from Nazi kidnappers you should not tell the Nazi officers when they come looking that you are indeed hiding them. But, should you, given that the chances were low that they would not search more anyways, show off your disrespect or hatred for them in such a way you are not directly pushing them but still communicating dislike or moral disgust?

In other words, should you stay honest in such a situation given something else other than the hot topic of where the people are but which still is a form of offensiveness that could be reacted upon... ?

prof
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by prof » Wed May 15, 2013 8:43 am

Impenitent wrote:
prof wrote: Moral growth is encouraged by accurate feedback. If you are honest with a friend who asks you for an opinion you may be aiding in his/her moral development ... if you frame it right.

At least, by speaking truth, you are a good role-model for others.
I'm certain that your Ministry of Truth will provide accurate feedback.-Imp
imp

Is this your idea of doing Philosophy?

Wouldn't you agree that those who know nothing about truth ought not to be so certain about anything.

The only thing I know for sure is that I do not know.

Why didn't you look up the analysis of the concept "truth" that I offered, and maybe learn something??

Have you never heard of The Correspondence Theory of Truth? It says that when a consensus of several individual's perceptions agree with your conception - as found in some proposition you have stated - then that proposition is more likely to be "true." Let's say, for example, that you declare "It's raining outside." If other people put their noses to the window pane and see drops falling and a wet pavement, and perturbations in a puddle, they may respond, "Yes, that's true."

To illustrate the point in question: If you notice that a buddy of yours is getting obese, you may possibly do him a favor by reminding him to do something about it - before he comes down with various conditions associated with obesity. This can be done in a nice way (diplomatically) or in a way that hurts. If you did use language that hurts, you likely will rationalize what you did by saying: "I was truthful with him when he asked me for counseling." However you would be unethical because you did not minimize suffering.

If, however, when he asked you about his appearance you told him "You look great" you would not be providing him accurate feedback. You would be fibbing. In the long run you would not have maximized value - again, a failure to practice ethics.

If one is unaware that obesity is harmful, then substitute smoking in the example - but maybe that same reader has never heard of emphysema nor of lung cancer ...and could be ignorant of the misery that goes with it.

I , suspect Imp, that you CARE - at least for a good buddy of yours. Don't you?

The Libertarian ethos is: Let him kill himself if he so chooses [ by his bad habit ]. Is that a caring attitude, though? I ask you, imp, does caring have a place in Ethics? {Carol Gilligan and lots of others believe it does. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_care }

If you have no idea about that, tell us please why you are here at an "Ethical Theory" site? I'm really curious to know.

Thanks for an honest response.

reasonvemotion
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by reasonvemotion » Wed May 15, 2013 9:40 am

It would be much appreciated if you Prof, would refrain from assuming the role of "teacher" and criticising in a condescending manner.

Each person on this Forum has his or her unique way of communicating. It would be a pity to wrench that away.

Impenitent
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by Impenitent » Wed May 15, 2013 10:26 am

prof wrote:
Impenitent wrote:
prof wrote: Moral growth is encouraged by accurate feedback. If you are honest with a friend who asks you for an opinion you may be aiding in his/her moral development ... if you frame it right.

At least, by speaking truth, you are a good role-model for others.
I'm certain that your Ministry of Truth will provide accurate feedback.-Imp
imp

Is this your idea of doing Philosophy?

Wouldn't you agree that those who know nothing about truth ought not to be so certain about anything.

The only thing I know for sure is that I do not know.
Socrates is smiling
prof wrote:Why didn't you look up the analysis of the concept "truth" that I offered, and maybe learn something??

Have you never heard of The Correspondence Theory of Truth? It says that when a consensus of several individual's perceptions agree with your conception - as found in some proposition you have stated - then that proposition is more likely to be "true." Let's say, for example, that you declare "It's raining outside." If other people put their noses to the window pane and see drops falling and a wet pavement, and perturbations in a puddle, they may respond, "Yes, that's true."

To illustrate the point in question: If you notice that a buddy of yours is getting obese, you may possibly do him a favor by reminding him to do something about it - before he comes down with various conditions associated with obesity. This can be done in a nice way (diplomatically) or in a way that hurts. If you did use language that hurts, you likely will rationalize what you did by saying: "I was truthful with him when he asked me for counseling." However you would be unethical because you did not minimize suffering.

If, however, when he asked you about his appearance you told him "You look great" you would not be providing him accurate feedback. You would be fibbing. In the long run you would not have maximized value - again, a failure to practice ethics.

If one is unaware that obesity is harmful, then substitute smoking in the example - but maybe that same reader has never heard of emphysema nor of lung cancer ...and could be ignorant of the misery that goes with it.

I , suspect Imp, that you CARE - at least for a good buddy of yours. Don't you?

The Libertarian ethos is: Let him kill himself if he so chooses [ by his bad habit ]. Is that a caring attitude, though? I ask you, imp, does caring have a place in Ethics? {Carol Gilligan and lots of others believe it does. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_care }

If you have no idea about that, tell us please why you are here at an "Ethical Theory" site? I'm really curious to know.

Thanks for an honest response.
so when everyone votes to jump off the bridge, it must be Truth...

and by the by, your definition of the correspondence theory is not the one most epistemologists use...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correspond ... y_of_truth

and check out Sosa and Kim's anthology of epistemology

-Imp

duszek
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Re: An analysis of the concept "honesty"

Post by duszek » Wed May 15, 2013 2:08 pm

"I want always to tell the truth."

Salesmen also tell the truth when they try to sell something.
Truth in a certain sense.
They tell you the truth but not the whole truth. They hide the bad aspects.

Are they honest ?

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