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Thorough Honesty

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4reason
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If you have something you want to tell someone, but don't, for whatever reason, isn't that committing an act of dishonesty? I am of the opinion that it is because by choosing to not speak up you're sort of neglecting --or possibly even trying to evade-- a little bit of reality. You're choosing not to say it because you don't like the implications it would have on reality, for whatever reason. I realize it's not an outright lie, but it still seems like an attempt to escape something. I realize that context matters here; for example, it would be perfectly ethical and not dishonest to not tell an armed robber where you children are hiding in the house. I'm just talking about general social encounters here, and would be curious to know where other Objectivists stand on this issue.

Edited by 4reason
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I think the two are fundamentally different. There is no imperative that you tell others everything you know, for most things it's none of their business, anyway.

Really, the only concern you have with these things is that not telling someone a fact that IS relevant to the relationship you have, does impact the value of the relationship in a small (or larger, for some things) way. I think most very close relationships should be the kind where you *can* share very personal and hard to discuss things with the other person. Not doing that makes the relationship less intimate than it otherwise could be. If that's a bad thing really depends on what you want your relationship to be like. For a casual acquaintance I wouldn't see the point in telling them a lot of things, but when you're talking about a partner or best friend, not wanting to share something important with them is probably indicative that something isn't exactly right, and it could damage your relationship if they do find out later that you didn't tell them. Mostly because most people would interpret that as either a lack of trust or a lack of appreciation for the depth of the relationship you both have.

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It HIGHly depends on what it is you're not telling someone. Omission can certainly be a form of dishonesty, but not in and of iteself. I have a whole life story that I omit telling everyone I meet. That doesn't mean I'm dishonest.

So even in general social encounters there is lots of stuff that goes to context. Relevance to the other person, your intent in withholding the information, etc.

Nor does the fact that you WANT to tell someone something does indicate anything about the honesty/dishonesty of the situation. In fact, I find that this desire is often misleading, especially in people who have a need to "bare their souls".

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If you have something you want to tell someone, but don't, for whatever reason, isn't that committing an act of dishonesty?
No. There's no general moral obligation to tell everyone everything. Rather, you should consider why you want to tell them this thing, and why you don't want to. For instance, suppose someone at work is being a total idiot and wants everybody to check that the paper clip bin is full everytime they go into the supply room. You can either suck it up or you can fight about it. Depending on the idiot, it might be of negligible value (due to the predictable ensuing rant) to tell the person that they are being idiotic, compared to just doing it.

OTOH I don't think it's a generally good policy to put up with stupidity just to keep things running smoothly, so what I'm suggesting is that you take a realistic look at the situation and decide where the greater value is. It's not automatically on the side of speaking whatever is on your mind.

There is a related question of the unsolicited social obligation to speak. If someone asks you "Are you dating Bobby" and you are but you don't want them to know, it's perfectly acceptable to say "I prefer to not answer those kinds of questions". You can also stare at them blankly; what you should not do is actually lie (again, assuming nobody has a gun to your head).

[ed: Dang, English requires object pronouns]

Edited by DavidOdden
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There is a related question of the unsolicited social obligation to speak. If someone asks you "Are you dating Bobby" and you are but you don't want them to know, it's perfectly acceptable to say "I prefer to not answer those kinds of questions". You can also stare at them blankly; what you should not do is actually lie (again, assuming nobody has a gun to your head).

[ed: Dang, English requires object pronouns]

In OPAR, on page 276, Leonard Peikoff writes, "[L]ying is necessary and proper in certain cases to protect one's privacy from snoopers." He doesn't elaborate there, but what I recall he has in mind is a case in which saying "I prefer not to answer" will be taken as "yes." If someone is snooping, and anything but a "no" will be taken as meaning "yes," then it is morally acceptable for you to say "no."

Always go back to the principle: are you trying to fake reality in order to obtain a value? When criminals and snoopers are putting you in a position where you must lie to protect a value from unjustified attack, then lying is OK.

I agree with what others have been saying on this thread more generally: one need not state everything on his mind in order to be honest. This comes up a lot when I deal with colleagues. I ask myself, "Do I need to say something in order to not be taken as agreeing with whatever monstrous thing is being said at the moment?" My colleagues know my views fairly well, so it's only occasionally when I think I must speak up. What you *want* to do at a particular moment might be irrelevant.

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He doesn't elaborate there, but what I recall he has in mind is a case in which saying "I prefer not to answer" will be taken as "yes." If someone is snooping, and anything but a "no" will be taken as meaning "yes," then it is morally acceptable for you to say "no."

Always go back to the principle: are you trying to fake reality in order to obtain a value? When criminals and snoopers are putting you in a position where you must lie to protect a value from unjustified attack, then lying is OK.

I was presupposing that the situation didn't involve coersion and an attack on a value such as the kidnapper or someone invading your privacy, but rather an ordinary social interaction, for example if your brother asks if you're dating Bobby. Assuming that Bobby is scum, in lying about your action, you would be trying to gain a value, a positive moral evaluation from your brother, by faking reality.

It's unfortunate that the details of the "snooper" situation aren't developed further, because I don't think that a relative or friend asking a personal question makes them a snooper deserving to be lied to. The problem that I have with the snooper case is that I can't concretize it into specific plausible instances where refusal to answer would result in an unjust loss of value. I think the inference "His refusal to answer must mean 'yes'." only works when you already have a sufficiently close social relationship that it would be appropriate to ask the question and that you have some obligation to answer. (Imagine for example that a random grocery store clerk were to ask "Are you cheating on your wife?" -- I don't see how a suitably outraged reply asserting your privacy could cause a reaonable person to conclude "OMG he's cheating on her!").

Of course, my position depends on people generally recognizing that people have a right to privacy, and if you replace that with a widespread social obligation to "be open" and tell all, then MYOB would be a fairly telling reply in all contexts.

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No. There's no general moral obligation to tell everyone everything. Rather, you should consider why you want to tell them this thing, and why you don't want to. For instance, suppose someone at work is being a total idiot and wants everybody to check that the paper clip bin is full everytime they go into the supply room. You can either suck it up or you can fight about it. Depending on the idiot, it might be of negligible value (due to the predictable ensuing rant) to tell the person that they are being idiotic, compared to just doing it.

I agree with this sentiment.

The original question seems to conflate honesty with openness. Honesty I require of myself for all but the most extreme of circumstances. Openness is something that should be earned in every relationship. The perpetual give and take leads to more and more openness and intimacy. There is no need, nor obligation to tell everyone everything that floats through your mind. In fact, it would be a little bothersome to most. I once met a fellow, who no more then two sentences after giving me his name, began explaining to me how 2 of his children had committed suicide in the lprevious 2 years. One can imagine how unbalanced a relationship like that would feel; one where I had told him nothing of similar import. His grief, obviously was the primary motivator of his poor social etiquette, but many people unbalance relationships in the same way, just in smaller degrees.

So if, by way of example, I had a friend who was about to make what I knew to be a big mistake, my willingness to venture an oppinion or advice would hinge primarily on my respect for them and my interest in their well-being. Good advice, is a gift. There is usually little reason to waste time and energy considering someone else's problems and discovering ways to fix them. Also, people i do not respect are not likely to take the advice well anyways, so no need to trouble them with answers when they are more interested in acting on their emotions.

Edited by aequalsa
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An example I have from my past about outright lieing to someone and knowing it and being proud of it was when someone -- one of the local high school thugs -- was trying to cheat off of me. The teacher knew it, but wouldn't do anything about it; the entire class knew it, but wouldn't do anything about it. So, what could I do? Well, I let him cheat, and even encouraged it, but wrote in all of the wrong answers :nuke: After he turned in his paper, assured in his snooping techniques, I went back and gave myself a 100% after giving him a 20% -- I mean, I had to give him some right answer so he wouldn't be suspicious ;) That incident puzzled him so much that he never bothered me again.

Some other local high school thugs were roaming the halls and bothering us in physics class, so for one of the experiments they asked what that was that we were playing with. I told them it was dynamite tape and that they had better stand back -- then I let the device go so that it would make a lot of noise. They took off running. Never heard from them again :lol:

Similarly, if someone is trying to take a value away from you that he hasn't earned, then it is OK to lie your head off. On the other hand, I don't think it is OK to cover up your past, say if you did things that were immoral, in order to preserve the image someone has of you that you have always been moral. Now, that doesn't mean you have to confess your every sin, but if someone close to you is estimating your character worth, and you lie to cover up your past, it would be far better to come right out and tell him, because if you lie to cover it up, you will be found out eventually, and your character assessment will go down to nothing -- and it will show that you have not actually changed your immoral ways. It may seem like damned if you do or damned if you don't, but it is better to have been considered immoral in the past but not in the present.

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I got stuck on "want to". Do you mean "should"? "Want to" does not tell me enough about... why?

Yes, I suppose I did mean "should," as I was referring to thoughts that were relevant to that other person and the relationship between the two of you. I guess I didn't make that clear enough in my initial question.

I think the two are fundamentally different. There is no imperative that you tell others everything you know, for most things it's none of their business, anyway.

Really, the only concern you have with these things is that not telling someone a fact that IS relevant to the relationship you have, does impact the value of the relationship in a small (or larger, for some things) way. I think most very close relationships should be the kind where you *can* share very personal and hard to discuss things with the other person. Not doing that makes the relationship less intimate than it otherwise could be. If that's a bad thing really depends on what you want your relationship to be like. For a casual acquaintance I wouldn't see the point in telling them a lot of things, but when you're talking about a partner or best friend, not wanting to share something important with them is probably indicative that something isn't exactly right, and it could damage your relationship if they do find out later that you didn't tell them. Mostly because most people would interpret that as either a lack of trust or a lack of appreciation for the depth of the relationship you both have.

If you are just starting a friendship with someone and you start to sense, hey, I don't really want to pursue this even as a friendship, shouldn't you tell that person? That's specifically what I am referring to because I have the sense that someone I recently met has that view toward me but is too scared to say so for whatever reason. If I were in his shoes, I would simply say "no thanks" and maybe state some reasons why, out of a sense of respect to myself and to that other person involved. That way, I know I wouldn't have to waste my time making that person feel better by not telling them what I'm really thinking, nor would I have to worry about giving them a false sense of what I'm thinking. It just seems easier to be open in that regard. The problem is I think a lot of people do hold back in matters like these because they do no view it as ethically wrong in any way, ie, they don't consider it being dishonest. At the very least, though, isn't it being dishonest to yourself? Or can you still say it to yourself, while holding it back from the other person involved, and still claim the moral highground?

It HIGHly depends on what it is you're not telling someone. Omission can certainly be a form of dishonesty, but not in and of iteself. I have a whole life story that I omit telling everyone I meet. That doesn't mean I'm dishonest.

So even in general social encounters there is lots of stuff that goes to context. Relevance to the other person, your intent in withholding the information, etc.

Nor does the fact that you WANT to tell someone something does indicate anything about the honesty/dishonesty of the situation. In fact, I find that this desire is often misleading, especially in people who have a need to "bare their souls".

I'm not advocating bearing your soul to any stranger you meet, but if you have an opinion, let's say, that's pertinent to that person and the relationship you wish to have or avoid with them, it still seems dishonest to not speak your mind on the matter. At the very least, it shows an extreme lack of integrity. By holding back information that directly affects your relationship-- no matter what it is-- with another person doesn't that mean you're trying to avoid the inevitable reality of the situation?

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I think my frustration mostly lies in my wishing people would not hold back their opinions toward me, especially if in holding that opinion back they're just making things more entangled and difficult than they need to be. Maybe the issue of honesty, then, lies on my behalf in calling the other person on what I suspect they want to say. I agree with this notion of weighing the "why's" and the "why not's" of telling somebody something -- I like the idiotic co-worker example. Again, I am not advocating total admittance of everything in one's life to everyone... but when something does directly have an impact on a relationship, be it with a co-worker, friend, lover, etc. donesn't one owe it to himself to speak honestly about it? Especially in cases that are less casual than just a co-worker or peer? I just don't understand why anyone would want to try and start anything up on the wrong foot.

I don't disagree with anything you all have said ;) It's nice to know that there are other people out there, besides myself, who take all these factors into consideration, unlike this guy -- and many others out there like him-- who consider themself in the right simply because they don't want to hurt other's feelings. It is important to weigh the pros and cons, and at the very least, as long as you are honest to yourself in your opinions of others I guess withholding information isn't necessarily dishonest. It sure is frustrating, though, especially when you are the one who information is likely being withheld from. But I am a sucker for contructive criticism. I would rather have people tell me exactly what they think rather than fake what they consider to be an acceptable response. I may be unusual in that respect; I'm not sure. That's one of the great things about my career with young children; they're never to shy to tell me when I am doing something wrong! Their honesty makes me smile everyday. Now if I could only get adults to address me in the same way...

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I think my frustration mostly lies in my wishing people would not hold back their opinions toward me, especially if in holding that opinion back they're just making things more entangled and difficult than they need to be.

I don't know, maybe they feel like you are putting them on the spot. I mean, I don't really know you, so if you asked me what I think of you or your character, I'd have to say either I don't know or I am not sure.

Besides, why does it matter so much to you? You mentioned in another thread that you were once like Peter Keating -- a second-hander -- so maybe that is a left-over premise that you need to check. For some people, I care what they think of me; I like to know that my friends like me for the right reasons, because part of the trade of a good friendship is being honest about each other's character. However, I notice that I still only have a two star rating on oo.net, and I'm still not sure what they are rating, but it's not going to get me to change the way I handle myself on this forum. When I am right, I know I am right, and I don't care who hates me for it or despises my point-blank way of phrasing things. Some people have even left the forum or have faded into the background specifically due to me, but that is their problem, not mine.

Perhaps you need to work more on your self-esteem. If you know you are good by a rational standard, then the opinion of others don't hurt so much. You might be disappointed in them for not seeing the rationality and your good character, but why should their opinion -- stated or unstated -- be such a high concern that you want to start this thread?

Should they be completely honest if you ask them about your character? Probably, but that would depend on the context. Maybe your co-workers don't like the way you do certain things, but maybe they don't think it's any of their business either. And judging someone's character isn't easy, so a lot of people don't want to come right out and tell you things to your face. So what? It doesn't mean they are lying.

I mean, I agree that some people who won't come right out and tell you some things about yourself are moral cowards -- they'd rather snicker behind their backs at you, especially if your morality is different than theirs -- but I wouldn't classify that as lying. Cowardly, yes; lying, no.

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I think my frustration mostly lies in my wishing people would not hold back their opinions toward me, especially if in holding that opinion back they're just making things more entangled and difficult than they need to be.

Whoa there 4reason, you've just switched the senario on us. I thought you started out discussing the moral evaluation of oneself in divulging information. Are we now talking about the moral evaluation of others in their divulging information to you? If so, then there are other factors that now come into play. Your perspective seems odd to me now as does your frustration. Regardless of the morality of it, it is a fact that we live in a social world of incomplete information. As others have already said there may be moral contexts in which this is wholly justified as well. So I think you have to check your frustration at the door.

I think there might be instances where you might have a right to be frustrated but these are very limited - such as when the person is close to you, and you have set clear expectations about what you think is the right principles of divulgence, and they have agreed to follow those principles.

Barring that I think you should look at what is causing the frustration because it is not warranted.

But I am a sucker for contructive criticism. I would rather have people tell me exactly what they think rather than fake what they consider to be an acceptable response. I may be unusual in that respect; I'm not sure.

hmmm, "sucker for constructive criticism" is the most curious choice of words I have seen, and I'm not sure what you mean by it. Are you saying that if someone has it, that you are in some way compelled to listen to it? My first response is stop being a sucker, in the true sense of the word. Critcism is something that you should spend time on in very limited, and screened situations. Only from people you value, or need to interact with. And don't concern yourself with the morality of them providing you complete access to it. If you want it, it is not their duty to provide it to you. It is your responsiblity to seek it out.

You should also recognize that seeking it out, doing that, is a drain on any relationship. What value does someone else get by going out of their way to provide you feedback that they are morally not obligated to provide you? Therefore you should be careful of wearing out the welcome so to speak.

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I think my frustration mostly lies in my wishing people would not hold back their opinions toward me, especially if in holding that opinion back they're just making things more entangled and difficult than they need to be.
Going in the direction of Kendall's comments, I have a general suggestion. Shift your focus from seeking the approval of others, and concentrate your efforts on realistic self-evaluation. A virtuous person will, in the face of evidence of virtue, be recognized as such by rational people. Your first concern ought to be "What are virtues, how to I achieve them", not "How do I get recognition and adoration from others; don't they owe me good feelings?".
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Besides, why does it matter so much to you? You mentioned in another thread that you were once like Peter Keating -- a second-hander -- so maybe that is a left-over premise that you need to check....

Perhaps you need to work more on your self-esteem. If you know you are good by a rational standard, then the opinion of others don't hurt so much. You might be disappointed in them for not seeing the rationality and your good character, but why should their opinion -- stated or unstated -- be such a high concern that you want to start this thread?

I no longer let others' opinion of me shape my decisions. I'm not proud of the fact that I used to, but I can take pride in my willingness to admit where my character had flaws in the past because I take it as a sign of growth. In general, I really don't care what people think about me anymore... that person walking by may think I'm short, that coworker may think I'm pretentious, that guy I'm dancing with may think I'm ill-coordinated, oh well. I just keep doing what I do, pursuing my own values as I see them.

I'm really not understanding how this is being interpreted as an issue of self-esteem. I think it is precisely because I do have a stronger sense of self-esteem now than I've ever had before that I'm having these frustrations. The opinion of people who have no real acquaintance with me do not really matter to me, but the people who explicitly try to seek that acquaintance then follow through with actions that do not match their stated intentions confuse me. That's not to say that I let their opinions "matter" to the point that my self-esteem is on the line; it simply means I think that they do not have that same desire to be honest with someone they're interested in getting acquainted with -- as a friend or whatever-- as I do. I consider it dishonesty not because I think we are all morally obligated to divulge every thought to every person, but more so because they're actions do not match their words. Because their actions do not match their words, I suspect they're holding back on something. But why? Why pursue anything under false pretenses, especially when it acts against one's self-interest?

Going in the direction of Kendall's comments, I have a general suggestion. Shift your focus from seeking the approval of others, and concentrate your efforts on realistic self-evaluation. A virtuous person will, in the face of evidence of virtue, be recognized as such by rational people. Your first concern ought to be "What are virtues, how to I achieve them", not "How do I get recognition and adoration from others; don't they owe me good feelings?".

i'm not begging for compliments, nor do I seek recognition and adoration. The fact that I used to at all makes me that much more capable of seeing how that's unnecessary now. People who are capable of seeing my virtues will do so simply by virtue of their own virtues. I can't instill those virtues in them to enable them to do that. When I started the thread I was thinking in particular of one person -- whose actions have since proven he is not a rational person. That's probably the problem; not only is he irrational but he's also an altruist so I don't think he even knows what his true opinions are. I, however, do know what my opinions are, and my opinion in regard to him and this whole matter is: why would one (ie, he) even bother in the first place? I know I would not pretend to like someone more than I did if I was really interested in getting to know them in any meaningful fashion. I would present myself as interested, and just that, and act upon that stated interest. I do consider honesty a virtue, and it is one I now constantly act to achieve and maintain. To me, the fact that he was able to say one thing and act according to another indicates that he does not see it as any way dishonest to misrepresent himself; to misrepresent himself by not telling the whole truth... by leaving something out. Again, a true indicator of a lack of integrity on his part.

As to Kendall's comments, I do consider it moral to divulge pertinent information to someone I was trying to establish an acquaintance with, especially when that information affects the foundation of the interest in the first place. I think I confused everyone with my wording in my initial inquiry (ha!, somehow what I left out in terms of clarity in my initial post misdirected the replies... how's that for irony! :) ). I do NOT consider just any person immoral for not telling me their every thought and opinion of me, but I do consider it immoral for someone who seeks an acquaintance to tell me things that their actions inevitably disprove. We do indeed live in a complex social world full of all sorts of contexts and extenuating circumstances, but I still think it is dishonest to try and start a friendship with someone you're not really interested in starting a friendship with. It just makes a mess of things and wastes everybody's time.... it prevents them both from pursuing their own true values and interests if even just for a moment ( not to mention that fact that it indicates that that person doesn't really know what their values are). It seems like it all could have been avoided had that person simply just been honest with himself, first and foremost. With that not having happened, the next opportunity to right the whole situation would have simply been to say "no thanks" rather than saying "okay" without ever having meant it.

Even still, I do still like hearing others' opinions of me, good or bad. I guess that's the "politician" part of my personality. I don't crave their opinions because I need them to base my self-evaluation on ( I have more dignity than that now); sometimes it's just amusing to have something to compare your self-evaluations to.

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I do consider it immoral for someone who seeks an acquaintance to tell me things that their actions inevitably disprove. We do indeed live in a complex social world full of all sorts of contexts and extenuating circumstances, but I still think it is dishonest to try and start a friendship with someone you're not really interested in starting a friendship with.

I don't know the whole situation, but I'm wondering if you are dealing with a person who either (1) changed his mind (for what reason, who knows) or (2) isn't in touch with his real emotions. It doesn't seem rational to not want to be someone's friend and yet waste one's time going through the motions. I guess he might also just be trying to be polite?

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but I still think it is dishonest to try and start a friendship with someone you're not really interested in starting a friendship with.

Well, ok, barring the fact that there is no way one could look at your first post and tell that this what you were talking about (this isn't a clarity issue. it simply isn't what you described).

Are you saying that someone told you they desired to start a friendship and that you know that at the time that they told you that they actually consciously knew that they did not? If that is the case, then it probably is dishonest. I just want to clarify that this is exactly the case you're speaking of.

Some alternates thoughts to consider since it is not yet clear from the senario you give.

a. If he told you yes at one time, and then later told you no, that is not necessarily the same thing. Yes and No are digital states, whereas the process of initiating a friendship is a process of discovery. One might say "yes" at the beginning, and over time discover things about you that turn "yes" into "no". That doesn't happen in one flash, so it will be true that at points in the intervening time that the "yes" is not quite as strong as the original "yes". I don't think that this is dishonest. In fact, it is actually detrimental to the process of establishing a friendship if you continually update the other person with your changing estimation of them as new data comes in. He might be guilty of waiting too long to say "no", but that is his choice using his judgement; he could be perfeclty sincere in doing it.

b. If it is true that he said "yes" in a casual manner, i.e. without giving it much thought, then it's more of an evasion thing, not acting with an active mind. However, if as you describe it his saying "yes" or "no" is actually a literal thing, then I'm wondering who initiated. If I'm a guy and I pursue someone I dont' say yes or no. Yes or no is something one says in response to an offer. Instead I simply pursue them.

So then is it true that you know that this person pursued you, when at the same time they had no intention of pursuing you? That is dishonest, but it seems like an odd situation in reality. I've not heard of that sort of thing happening very often. At least not to cause one the kind of continued frustration that you describe. This might be something to be irked at a one off individual but not to cause the general frustration you're claiming.

As To the Dogs has said, there are possible reasonable explanations for the persons behavior, given what you've told us.

Edited by KendallJ
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If you have something you want to tell someone, but don't, for whatever reason, isn't that committing an act of dishonesty? I am of the opinion that it is because by choosing to not speak up you're sort of neglecting --or possibly even trying to evade-- a little bit of reality. You're choosing not to say it because you don't like the implications it would have on reality, for whatever reason. I realize it's not an outright lie, but it still seems like an attempt to escape something. I realize that context matters here; for example, it would be perfectly ethical and not dishonest to not tell an armed robber where you children are hiding in the house. I'm just talking about general social encounters here, and would be curious to know where other Objectivists stand on this issue.

If you are giving testimony you are obliged not to omit anything pertinent. However in social encounters, under what conditions are you obliged to say everything you no to be true, with regards to a particular situation or event? Clearly lying or deceiving (except for self defense) is not ethical. I suppose it would depend on the situation to know whether full disclosure is required. Some business situations have an implicit requirement for full disclosure.

I have a friend who tried her hand at singing. She asked me how she sounded. I told her not to give up her day job. I could not bring myself to tell her that her singing made my ears shrivel. Which is why she is still my friend. I suppose I could have told her that I would rather not say, but that is the same as saying to her that she sounded dreadful.

Bob Kolker

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Well, ok, barring the fact that there is no way one could look at your first post and tell that this what you were talking about (this isn't a clarity issue. it simply isn't what you described).

Are you saying that someone told you they desired to start a friendship and that you know that at the time that they told you that they actually consciously knew that they did not? If that is the case, then it probably is dishonest. I just want to clarify that this is exactly the case you're speaking of.

Some alternates thoughts to consider since it is not yet clear from the senario you give.

a. If he told you yes at one time, and then later told you no, that is not necessarily the same thing. Yes and No are digital states, whereas the process of initiating a friendship is a process of discovery. One might say "yes" at the beginning, and over time discover things about you that turn "yes" into "no". That doesn't happen in one flash, so it will be true that at points in the intervening time that the "yes" is not quite as strong as the original "yes". I don't think that this is dishonest. In fact, it is actually detrimental to the process of establishing a friendship if you continually update the other person with your changing estimation of them as new data comes in. He might be guilty of waiting too long to say "no", but that is his choice using his judgement; he could be perfeclty sincere in doing it.

b. If it is true that he said "yes" in a casual manner, i.e. without giving it much thought, then it's more of an evasion thing, not acting with an active mind. However, if as you describe it his saying "yes" or "no" is actually a literal thing, then I'm wondering who initiated. If I'm a guy and I pursue someone I dont' say yes or no. Yes or no is something one says in response to an offer. Instead I simply pursue them.

So then is it true that you know that this person pursued you, when at the same time they had no intention of pursuing you? That is dishonest, but it seems like an odd situation in reality. I've not heard of that sort of thing happening very often. At least not to cause one the kind of continued frustration that you describe. This might be something to be irked at a one off individual but not to cause the general frustration you're claiming.

As To the Dogs has said, there are possible reasonable explanations for the persons behavior, given what you've told us.

lol... I'm really not very good at starting topics with concise, clear questions, am I? Brevity is not one of my talents... I've always been very verbose, usually to the point where what I am trying to say becomes very unclear. I'm working on that (but thanks for the comment Progressiveman :lol: ). Hearing others opinions can help me realize when I am being unclear, so that's another reason why I like constructive criticism: it's strengthening my communication skills.

As to your comments KendallJ, he initiated 100%. He asked me to dance, he offered to walk me to the light rail station and waited with me, he asked me for my number, he called me two days later, he asked for a date, he called again before that date and we talked for hours. But then right when I am almost at the rendevous point, he calls and cancels the dinner of half the date, but promises to make up for it by dancing with me several nights later. Then he doesn't show. He texts me later and tells me he is sorry but he was sick, but then in the course of that text exchange he explains that he is sick because he is "pursuing someone at the moment" and that combined with his obligations to his family and friends is exhausting him. So maybe he asked me for my number as some weird sort of courtesy thing, but why follow it up with a call and even a date if you're really pursuing someone else? I just laughed when I received his explanation for being sick because it told me more about him than I think he intended to reveal. It showed he doesn't understand where values come from: if he understood they come from himself (and not from God, being the born-again that he claims to be) then he wouldn't be acting so sporadically. He doesn't know what he wants; that's clear. I just thought it was funny how much he stressed honesty as an important thing for people to have and yet his words and his actions are so contradictory. What was really funny is that after that, he said, but I still owe you, "a promise is a promise." I told him not to bother, I have more dignity than to be someone else's guilt trip. I've tried that before, and it doesn't make one feel very good about themself. It's just insulting to all parties involved. I would much rather have someone spend time with me because they value me as a person. The fact that he initiated the whole thing made me think maybe he did or at least had the curiousity to get to know me, but his ensuing actions clearly indicate he doesn't get me -- or any kind of rational thinking -- at all.

I just thought the whole thing was funny, and was curious if anyone had any ideas about how someone like him could justify that course of action yet still pride themself as an honest human being. I guess the whole inquiry is futile; it's really only worth pursuing if we're talking about a rational person in the first place who is able to understand his own role in determining his values and wants. I understand mine, that's why I see humor in the whole situation.

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I guess the whole inquiry is futile

Yeah it is. Obviously the guy is weak. He made both those decisions(lying to you about being sick and later on, asking to go out with you for pity sake) based on protecting your feelings, and not on what he wants. I would guess most of his decisions are like that since he is a born-again Christian. I agree with you that acting like that is definitely not good for a relationship.

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Where did you get that idea? Not here, I assume.

The oath (or affirmation) is administered thus: Do you swear (or affirm ) to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Materially omitting content under questioning is legally actionable.

Bob Kolker

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