Sunday, June 29, 2014


Sunday Morning Sermon - June 29 2014

Deception is an infrequent but inevitable part of human social interaction.  Deception fulfills important human social needs despite its disadvantages.  An obvious question is to what extent deception can be justified in virtual communities, and whether the justification could be different than that for deception in traditional societies.  Humans are, generally, subject to many social constraints that affect the feasibility and suitability of deception.

Deception is a key issue in ethics with many important applications in law, business, politics, and psychology.  Deception has several potential negative consequences.  It damages relationships once discovered since they require trust; it can hurt a community by focusing its attention on false issues and devaluing its communications; it can hurt the deceiver?s reputation and make them unable to function in a community; and even if not discovered, it supports a deceiver's self-deception and can ultimately hurt them.

Several studies have focused on the ethics of one form of deception, lying.  Lying has its many facets as follows:-
·        White lies (small lies that are seemingly harmless).  These are often unnecessary since carefully chosen truthful statements or silence may easily serve the same purposes.
·        False excuses.  Although these are passive lies, told to prevent something else, they can indirectly cause as much harm as active lies.
·        Lies to prevent harm in a crisis.  Serious crises do not occur very often, so it is tempting to mislabel noncritical situations as critical.
·        Lies to liars in retaliation.  But this lowers the retaliator to the same moral level as the offender.
·        Lies to enemies on general principles.  But "enemy" is a fluid and poorly defined concept that is often used to justify bigotry.
·        Lies to cheat, protecting peers and clients.  Again, carefully chosen truthful statements or silence is often possible and preferable.
·        Lies for the public good (often claimed by politicians).  These are very difficult to justify since everyone has a different definition of the "public good".
·        Paternalistic lies (as to children).  Guidance and persuasion can often eliminate the need for such lies.
·        Lies to the sick and dying.  This violates the right of patients to make informed decisions.

It is said that a justifiable lie must satisfy three criteria: 
1. that there are no alternative courses of action to lying
2. that the moral arguments for the lie outweigh the moral arguments against it
3. that a "reasonable person" with no personal interest in the outcome would approve of the lie.

False promises and excuses are another problem within communities. Most often they are justified using excuses and reasons to cover up the liars agenda.

Deception also leads to cheating in many cases where financial transactions may be involved. Some may utilize the opportunity to make a quick buck off the deal while deceiving the other into believing that there has been some delay in the receipt of funds or profit.

At the end of the day its the negative impact it has on the receiver that is the cause for concern. Many perpetrators of deception dont really care about this when they resort to this game.


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