- Taschenbuch: 368 Seiten
- Verlag: Vintage; Auflage: Vintage Books (14. September 1999)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0375705287
- ISBN-13: 978-0375705281
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,2 x 1,8 x 20,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 124.328 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 14. September 1999
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A thoughtful addition to the growing debate over public and private morality. Looks at lying and deception in law, family, medicine, government.
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Sissela Bok is a senior visiting fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Previously, she was a professor of philosophy at Brandeis Univeristy. She is the author of Lying: Moral Choice in Private and Public Life; Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation; A Strategy for Peace: Human Values and the Threat of War; Alva Myrdal: A Daughter’s Memoir; Mayhem: Violence as Public Entertainment; Common Values; and Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science. A former member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, Bok is a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
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It is rare to read a book, where the author is critical of society because of thier choice to allow and accept little white lies as normal behavior. After finishing this book, the reader can take this information and begin to think of ethical and moral problems in our society and why we accept certain actions.
Bok continued choice to tackle ethical issues is a noteworthy endeavor - especially when she writes quality work such as _Lying_.
Even its structure of the discussion about lying around started me thinking in new ways about the topic. The analysis presented was organized and orderly on a topic that deals with much of human interaction.
This book is a must read - you will lie less after reading it.
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"The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," made sense to me. It still does, but defining each was less simple than I thought. Sissela Bok's challenged me.
An adequate summary of the book isn't possible. I can say as a writer, I know what's excluded is as important to the truth as what's included. And the framing of what is used is far from just typing it out. What do I lead with? Which verbs do I use?
You've heard how easy it is to use statistics to mislead an audience. Imagine that as merely a beginning. This is invasive: You will, as I did, discover you lie often. Myself, I was disturbed.
This impacts my professional life as a speechwriter and my personal life. I want to be honest.
Even now, as I re-approach this, I'm daunted by the distance I have yet to go. However, I relish the challenge. I'm a better man for having read this.
‘Truth is me’ !
“We gradually learn, from childhood on, what it is to lie and to be lied to. We come to know the power that lies can confer, and how much easier it is to slip into a lie than to undo its effects. Everyone makes mistakes of this kind; it is another matter altogether to choose to be someone who deals with others through deceit.’’
‘Power’ seems to be the key. Who doesn’t want it?
“The most serious miscalculation people make when weighing lies is to evaluate the costs and benefits of a particular lie in an isolated case, and then to favor lies if the benefits seem to outweigh the costs. In so doing, they risk blinding themselves to the effect that such lying can have on their integrity and self-respect, and to the jeopardy in which they place others.”
Bok highlights the damage to the liar throughout. Excellent point!
“Much will depend, in arriving at personal answers about moral choice under such circumstances, on the lessons learned from the examples of deceit in the public eye at any one time. Will they serve as models or as cautionary examples—as exciting and worthy of imitation or as emblematic of the harm that liars can do to themselves, to those to whom or on behalf of whom they lie, and to the fragile veneer of social trust? Either way, the example they set may have a force all its own. La Rochefoucauld held that “nothing is so contagious as an example. We never do great good or great evil without bringing about more of the same on the part of others.”
Another powerful insight. Lying destroys society!
“Sometimes the rigorous tradition was felt to be so confining that a large opening to allowable misstatements was needed. In this way, casuist thinkers developed the notion of the “mental reservation,” which, in some extreme formulations, can allow you to make a completely misleading statement, so long as you add something in your own mind to make it true.’’
“Thus, if you are asked whether you broke somebody’s vase, you could answer “No,” adding in your own mind the mental reservation “not last year” to make the statement a true one. Such definitions serve the special purpose of allowing persons to subscribe to a strict tradition yet have the leeway in actual practice which they desire. When the strict traditions were at their strongest, as with certain forms of Catholicism and Calvinism, such “definitional” ways out often flourished.’’
Really? This is so . . . so . . . cool!
“Whenever a law or rule is so strict that most people cannot live by it, efforts to find loopholes will usually ensue; the rules about lying are no exception.’’
‘Strain fleas and swallow hogs’
“At times, liars operate as if they believed that such a free-rider status is theirs and that it excuses them.’’
‘Free-rider’ economic slang for ‘I am entitled (lie, steal, abuse) and you are not. Implies I am using (spending) the trust you earned for my personal benefit. This is stealing.
“At other times, on the contrary, it is the very fact that others do lie that excuses their deceptive stance in their own eyes. It is crucial to see the distinction between the free-loading liar and the liar whose deception is a strategy for survival in a corrupt society.*”
‘Two types of liars’ — crucial understand difference!
“All want to avoid being deceived by others as much as possible. But many would like to be able to weigh the advantages and disadvantages in a more nuanced way whenever they are themselves in the position of choosing whether or not to deceive. They may invoke special reasons to lie—such as the need to protect confidentiality or to spare someone’s feelings.’’
“They are then much more willing, in particular, to exonerate a well-intentioned lie on their own part; dupes tend to be less sanguine about the good intentions of those who deceive them.’’
“But in this benevolent self-evaluation by the liar of the lies he might tell, certain kinds of disadvantage and harm are almost always overlooked. Liars usually weigh only the immediate harm to others from the lie against the benefits they want to achieve.’’
‘Ignore Future harm’
“The flaw in such circumstances an outlook is that it ignores or underestimates two additional kinds of harm—the harm that lying does to the liars themselves and the harm done to the general level of trust and social cooperation. Both are cumulative; both are hard to reverse.’’
‘Two serious injuries — destroy themselves and others’
“Shift the focus from this case taken in isolation to the vast practices of which it forms a part. What is the effect on colleagues and subordinates who witness the deception so often resulting from such a choice? What is the effect on the members of Congress as they inevitably learn of a proportion of these lies? And what is the effect on the electorate as it learns of these and similar practices?”
Change from personal injury to public damage —
“Then shift back to the narrower world of the official troubled about the legislation he believes in, and hoping by a small deception to change a crucial vote. It is the fear of the harm lies bring that explains statements such as the following from Revelations 22:15 — which might otherwise seem strangely out of proportion:
“These others must stay outside [the Heavenly City]: dogs, medicine-men, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and everyone of false life and false speech.’’
Why murder as bad as ‘false life and speech’?
“It is the deep-seated concern of the multitude which speaks here; there could be few contrasts greater than that between this statement and the self-confident, individualistic view by Machiavelli: Men are so simple and so ready to obey present necessities, that one who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.”
I IS THE “WHOLE TRUTH” ATTAINABLE?
The “Whole Truth” Truth and Truthfulness
Defining Intentional Deception and Lying
II TRUTHFULNESS, DECEIT, AND TRUST
Lying and Choice
The Perspective of the Deceived
The Perspective of the Liar
The Principle of Veracity
III NEVER TO LIE?
Rejecting All Lies
Conflicts of Duty
IV WEIGHING THE CONSEQUENCES
The Role of Consequences Systems
V WHITE LIES
Harmless Lying Placebos
Letters of Recommendation
Truthfulness at What Price?
Types of Excuses
Fairness Veracity How Persuasive?
Justification and Publicity
Levels of Justification
Caution and Risk-taking
VIII LIES IN A CRISIS
The Acute Crisis
Prolonged Threats to Survival
Danger of Expanding
IX LYING TO LIARS
Lying to Unmask Liars
An Eye for an Eye
X LYING TO ENEMIES
Giving Enemies Their Due
Rules of the Game
XI LIES PROTECTING PEERS AND CLIENTS
Fidelity to Colleagues
Fidelity to Clients
XII LIES FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD
The Noble Lie
Examples of Political Deception
Deception and Consent
XIII DECEPTIVE SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH
Questions of Professional Responsibility
XIV PATERNALISTIC LIES
XV LIES TO THE SICK AND DYING
Deception as Therapy
The Patient’s Perspective
Respect and Truthfulness
Bok writing for the general reader. Smooth, pleasant and intriguing. Nice balance of story and abstract development. Psychological insight combined with critical analysis. Presents this sensitive theme with respect. Nevertheless, doesn’t shy away from passing moral/ethical judgement.
I learned a lot and enjoyed it.
APPENDIX Excerpts from works by Augustine, Aquinas, Bacon, Grotius, Kant, Sidgwick, Harrod, Bonhoeffer, and Warnock
About two-hundred notes (linked)
Twenty-five references in bibliography
Meanwhile, the polls uniformly report that a substantial majority of Americans are sick and tired of the shrill commercials and the bitter end partisanship that has brought our government to its knees. Sissela Bok, an expert on lying, its justifications and consequences, makes clear the price we pay when we are lied to. One lie, unchallenged, begets another and another. Unless stopped, "government leaders will have free rein to manipulate and distort the facts and thus escape accountability to the public."
The candidates justify their lies on the grounds that they are better suited to govern than their opponents. Quite the contrary, the more a candidate lies to win election, the more likely he or she is to lie in office at the cost of losing our trust and, in the process, the ability to govern effectively.
"Lying" is a comprehensive treatment of the history and practice of lying at all levels of society, from family matters (lying to children, the sick, and the elderly) to lies to protect colleagues and one's self from criticism and blame, lies in business and commerce for gain or to head off loss, and lies of state in war and in peace. Bok treats the justifications advanced for lying, the consequences that result from deceit, and demonstrates that valid justifications for lying at any level are rare and should always be subject to scrutiny and debate.
"Lying" should be required reading for everyone in authority and everyone subject to authority. Unless we can trust those who lead us, and unless those of us who follow are able to hold our leaders accountable when they violate our trust, no amount of hand wringing over the present sad state of affairs will get us anywhere.
Liar, Liar, pants on fire. Our political system is burning. We need to regain control of it p d q.
End note. I think highly of Sissela and Derek Bok based on limited but telling personal experiences. I would like to think that my view of the value and timeliness of "Lying" is based not on my acquaintance with the author and her husband, but on the merits of the book. FYI, I have also reviewed Dan Ariely's new book, "The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty", a kindred topic and equally timely.