Deceptive Behaviour in Animals
Since most people think of lying as wrong, it becomes a moral issue and a major dilemma. The history of lying is quite complicated, but a certain quote shows it naturally; “A number of primates were taught to ‘speak’ using a modified form of human sign language…psychologist Penny Patterson noted how often Koko (one of the primates that were taught human sign language) used signs to deceive her.” (Keyes 19). Deception can be a form of lying and this somewhat proves that lying and deception are in our nature, along with other mammals.
Even though other animals cannot verbally communicate just like we do, they can have deceptive behavior. Basically, people have been lying and leaving out the truth since the beginning of time. This is a dilemma because people need to know if it really is acceptable in society to tell a little white lie or lie at all. Obviously, this is not something extremely controversial in today’s society because a lot of people lie and do not even realize it, but when people are asked if lying is moral, they are quick to say no it is immoral. This is shown in the quote “lying corrupts the most important quality of my being human: my ability to make free, rational choices… and my lies rob others of their freedom to choose rationally” (Mazur, 2015).
Ethical Dilemma of Lying
This dilemma should be a bigger issue talked about more in common debate since it is something people deal with every day as it is easy to tell a little white lie or leave out the truth even as an accident. Personally, I think lying is immoral for the most part. However, I do think there are times when it is acceptable. If someone is lying for the greater good, it is okay. For example, I do not think it is moral to lie on a resume to get a job or get a promotion. Almost everyone does it “Even medical students and trainees are pulled into some schemes” (Ariely 78). This shows how many people do it even though they know it is immoral. Although, I do think it is acceptable to tell a little white lie to save a loved one’s feelings. For example, if my friend just got a bad haircut, I would tell her a little white lie so she would not get sad.
Another example of lying to not hurt someone’s feelings would be when a man’s wife asks him if a certain dress makes her look fat. The man will most likely bend the truth or lie and say she does not ever look fat. I also think it is moral to lie for the greater good. For instance, if a doctor knew a patient was likely to not live, they might not tell the parent or whoever is with them because they may not want to worry them. The doctor also might not necessarily lie, but the doctor might just stretch the truth or be deceptive. In particular, the doctor could and refuse to predict that. Few doctors will even tell the patient how long they think the patient will live if it is certain they will not make it so the patient’s loved one is not panicking. Another example of lying for the greater good is a situation if there was a school shooter and I was a citizen in the school who could save thirty classmates lives by lying to the school shooter, I would do it. I feel like since it would save thirty people’s lives, it is morally right. Some other people may say that all lying is immoral. Religion plays a big part in this; most Christian people would agree that it is wrong. I asked my mom her opinion on lying and she said it is never moral because she is a devout Catholic.
Occasions When Lying is Justified
I am a Catholic as well, but I do think there are certain instances when lying for the greater good is acceptable and moral. Situations also take a big part in people’s opinions on this topic. Some people like my dad would say lying at work is unacceptable, but lying in personal relationships is okay. I agree with this in the sense that I think it is wrong to lie at work because usually if someone is to lie at work it is to get themselves a promotion or get them further in life. It is usually a selfish lie, not a lie for the greater good, which I believe is morally wrong. There are occasions when I think it is okay like when “compassion might trump honesty on occasion” (Plante, 2011). However, I do think it is morally right to lie about something for the greater good.