Truth vs comfort dilemma

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Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 11:29 am
Many people, including me, often insist on wanting to know the truth, even if it hurts. Some people will be more prepared for uncomfortable truths than others. There are often some situations where you will have second thoughts about whether telling the truth is actually a good idea... Some examples:

What if a friend is suicidal or very depressed, and their loved one has cheated on them, and you know it? That person in question is of course a disrespectful bastard, but anyway, your friend deserves to know the truth, but still, getting to know it might mean they get extremely miserable.

What about people who go see mediums, who claim to talk to their dead friends and relatives? I'm not excluding the possibility that it can be done for real, but it's undeniable that many people in the industry are very skilled cold readers, who simply exploits naive people for money, it gives them comfort, but it's still extremely cynical! Should you tell the victims that it's a fraud?

Another good one! What if a girl is kidnapped by a sick sadist who tortures and rapes her for hours until he finally kills her. The news will of course be all over this to make money, but think how their loved ones feel. Not only is she dead, she suffered immensely in the moments before, without any glimpse of hope... What if the media and the police lied, and told her parents that she was in an accident, and someone found her, she couldn't be saved, but she had the time to say that she loved her family and friends before she died, and that she knew they loved her as well, and hade a glow of peace in her eyes before finally passing away? That would be a much more comfortable story to hear for sure. It would also be easier to believe in since they want to believe it.
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 11:42 am
Isn't the question about the relative value of different moral "rules," and what one does when they conflict and there is no "rule" about which of them to follow in ambiguous situations?
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 12:10 pm
See this is a fundamental thing about our reality, there never really is a true always positive way of life. There are times when even your philosophy of life may not work how you expect. To always be honest has been shown time and time again that it is not always the best policy. Sure we value honesty but in reality very few people want honesty always. Some people have developed skills to soften a response or to use silence to speak for itself rather than reveal the truth. In cases where the information would be incredibly objectionable or harsh, silence or a deflecting statement can vouch for the entire situation without a single dishonest word. But like I said, some don't always have these skills and some have them mastered to the point it could be scary.
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 05:53 pm
Good Post, Good Question

At the risk of donning my Capt Obvious cape and tights, I'd say: It depends. That being said; however, there are a couple of factors that figure in. For those times where we want to spare someone the pain of the truth, as we know it (in this scenario), compassion is our driving force. Do we heap on them the pain of knowing?[INDENT]The first thing that strikes me, is that if I evaluate whether or not I should tell what I know, is that I'm doing so based on my values, my fears and my idea of what is painful. One must be careful not to make a decision for others.
[/INDENT][INDENT]Second perhaps is one's level of commitment to being truthful, as best we can. If I esteem honesty and respect for individuals, and someone asks, I'll tell what I know as best as can be put (with all the requisite qualifiers, depending on how sure I am of such information - and not speaking on rumor and innuendo).
[/INDENT]And yes, I can well imagine situations where I simply can't bring myself to answer the question asked; in which case I'd think it best simply to say so. But it all depends on a myriad of factors. I guess the central-most point I'd like to contribute to the question is that I think it important we not assume what is best for others based on our highly-individualized mindsets. If someone asks, tell them - if you'd want to know, offer such information to others; only do so in such a way that clearly and honestly qualifies the information you're giving: If its second hand, say so - if it's from a spurious source, either withhold or say as much.

... such as the world appears to me
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 09:00 pm
Veritas vincit.

I say, always tell the truth, unless it will surely result in someone being harmed.

To go beyond the examples you gave...for instance, a friend is suicidal (or homicidal) and asks you if you know where the keys to the gun safe are. It would be best to lie. I think Plato gives a similar example in the Republic, when discussing honesty.

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