Is truth a moral value?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Magical Realist, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Many assume it is. We are raised from toddlers never to lie to our parents, our teachers, our friends, or the police. Truth-telling is thus strongly ingrained us culturally. It ensures an unimpeded flow of accurate information among members of a society. It doesn't matter if telling the truth has negative consequences to you or others. TELL the TRUTH!

    But really, is this even reasonable? How often does "the truth" conflict with being happy? Aren't there some things better left secret? Aren't some people better left in the dark? Can most people even "handle the cold truth?" And what if truth is relative--totally dependent on your point of view?

    I don't think truth is a value in itself. There is nothing in true statements that make them more moral than false statements. Truth is a property of language. Knowledge of facts is value neutral. Millions of parents lie to their kids every year about Santa Claus to make them happier. Is THAT immoral? No..Truth is only a means towards an end--a tool for a preexisting value. It has no value in itself. That's my tentative proposal.
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Functionally, truth is simply truth. There is an abstract context in which it transcends human experience.

    • Consider that an event happens, and there are six witnesses. Each will tell you a different version of events. Some accounts will even dispute with others. Have six separate events occurred? Well, more than that if we define events precisely enough, but for functional purposes we can assert that objectively, one event has occurred. In abstract potential, an exactly accurate explanation of what happened―e.g., how the car wreck occurred―exists; whether that explanation can be coaxed from the accounts is its own question.​

    Truth has a functional value; to that functional value we attach empirical relevance, and from that attachment we might derive a moral context.

    Truth as a moral value is a sometimes result of the abstract function of truth and its composition.
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  5. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Not a shocker.
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  7. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    If it is, then what does that say about people who deny the truth...?
  8. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    It does not seem to be an assumption, rather it is viewpoint that has been taught, or - if your prefer - indoctrinated. You make this point yourself. It is, therefore, a cultural meme that will rarely be subjected to objective analysis.

    That is simply wrong. At least within Western society the notion of the "little white lie" is commonplace. It is well understood that you will tell acquaintances that they are pleasantly plump and could benefit from a new wardrobe, rather than calling them a fat slob. So, in the same way we are taught the value of the truth, we are also taught that this should often be sugar-coated: we are taught how and when to lie, in a culturally acceptable manner. (And I haven't even considered the place of the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.)

  9. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    I think the "not calling them a fat slob" thing is more an issue of tact and diplomacy rather than deliberate deception?
  10. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    It is, however, a lie, in that it is not the complete truth. They are not 'pleasantly plump', or a little overweight, they are fat.

    When my wife asks me "Does my bum look big in this" it takes a massive effort on my part not to say "Your bum looks big in everything".
  11. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Morality is based on principles that maximize the group. Morality is not about maximizing individuals, per se, but rather it is about maximizing the team. If the individuals sacrifice their ego for the good of the team, the team is able to benefit the individuals, by making them all rise into a champion.

    For example, stealing is considered immoral by most people. This is not true of all, especially those who look for loopholes. Even though stealing is considered immoral, it could be used to maximize an individual. Stealing is much easier than working.

    However, stealing, if allowed for all, would destroy the social team, since nobody would work if you could steal for a living. A thief base culture will wait for others to work, so they can steal. But if nobody is working; staying moral for the team, this will cause the group to quickly decline. If nobody steals; team first, then all need to work, meaning a stronger team in terms of productivity and growth.

    Truth is moral, because truth benefits the team by creating a fixed standard of reality based on cause and effect. The truth may not always benefit the individual, especially if engaged in immorality. Truth is better of the team, since it allows the coach to put the best players in optimized places, with each fighting for the team. But not all the individuals will see the logic and benefit of this.

    There a special case of truth, that is immoral, because of the criteria it is not optimized for the team. This is half truth, where some truth is given, but other truth is left out, so the avenues for inference, can be fixed in advanced to come out where you want them to be. If I wanted to play on the team, but was not good enough, I might tattle tale and say Jim was drinking last night. This may be true, but it may also be true he can still play at 100%.

    There is an immoral trick I can do to distort the truth. I will make the drinking have much more emotional value than his performance. This makes the drinking data appear like triple the data points; subjectively at the feeling level. This fools morons who are immoral, to infer the wrong way for the team.

    Another trick is connected to the partial team effect. Say instead of letting the coach decide the team, based on talent, we use two players as captains to lead the team. Each will use politics to benefit themselves.They pull the team in two directions, with two different value systems, that optimized each partial team, but neither system can optimize the whole team.

    In this case, immorality can be used to optimize each sub-team, because each is set up to parasite off the other. The ends justices the means, allowing immorality to be used by the sub teams, because this appears to optimize a group; relative morality and relative truth.

    Morality is human team dependent not sub-team dependent. The team effect confuses people, allowing truth to become relative to needs of the sub team. When President Obama said you can keep you doctor he knew quite well this was a lie. But this lie benefited a sub team, which saw the ends as the truth. Because it was immoral the team cost went up with $1Billion spend on just a web site that itself is still sick.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    I don't disagree with the concept in the abstract; what is harder to reconcile, though, is the application to reality. In some cases this is a matter of definitions; in others, it is a matter of circumstance.

    For instance, you've seen some of the rolling firefight going on here about social conservatism and sexual mores. We can isolate and argue according to the abstract principle you've asserted that what, say, Bells and I might consider misogynist, is in any one isolated consideration morally proper.

    But if we don't fracture the outlook into individual issues that have nothing to do with one another, yes, it really does come about that the practical application of such morality is devastating for women.

    Remember, we're less than a quarter-century out from the last marital rape exemption, and we still hear the argument from some politicians. And this is a society in which the proposition that women exist for the sake of men still holds such sway that I can name you right now two former prosecutors turned politicians who will not reject a man's right to force a woman to have sex. One is a sitting U.S. Congressman from Colorado Four, Rep. Ken Buck. The other is a carpetbagging state legislator in ... Virginia, I think, who finds occasional success at the ballot box. His name is Dick Black. Mr. Buck, formerly the Weld County prosecutor, once infamously refused to prosecute a confessed rape because he felt the woman didn't do enough to prevent it. Mr. Black, formerly a military prosecutor, has explained that rape in the military is natural, and considers marital rape an injustice against a man who forces his wife to have sex with him.

    And you're familiar with IPA. What would be infinite prevention advice except that we've finally discovered a boundary: Suspect everyone, but #NotAllMen, and especially not me. It turns out that when we take the IPA aimed at a statistical slender minority of rapes and turn it back toward the statistical majority of rapes, advocates freak out. Don't let other people pour your drink? Okay, now what if that other person is your husband? Nice fuckin' marriage they've got, isn't it?

    And that's the boundary.

    There is, of course, the anti-abortion movement, and now social conservatives are even coming after birth control. At some point, it really does start looking, in practical application, like the point is to knock women up and keep 'em that way.

    Collectively, this would be a devastating outcome for women. And their individual sacrifices for our greater good of Liberty and Justice for all would be to live by lesser imitations of each.

    We should not be surprised that the beneficiaries of this moral paradigm just happen to be men.

    That's the way it works.

    It affects all such cohorts; the Catholic Church, once upon a time, was a social order, and Islam is a social order in much of the world today. The morality prescribed almost always―allowing for the necessary deviations natural variation demands―benefits the image of who is in control. We can witness daily intimations of the desire in certain sectors of American Christianity.

    Think of the overlap between evangelical Christians and economic conservatism. Just how is it that the prevailing morality of a Christian identity comes to reject the Apostles? It is because the moral structure under those influences is tailored to profit the empowered very immediately, with little regard for the middle and long-term effects.

    And while some would point to the fantastical aspects of such thought in order to note their seemingly infinite adaptivity, that's probably pouring on just a bit.

    That is, the point at hand has to do with the difference between the abstract and the practical.

    The general and partiular can wait.

    That the majority of a society should live in depravation under a social contract of Liberty and Justice for all is an inappropriate sacrifice. Indeed, by the framework of the society, it is the antithesis of maximization for the group.

    But if you appeal to the defenseless little zygotes? Okay, it is possible to construe a moral argument against abortion if we restrict the framework. After all, if you don't want a baby, don't get pregnant.

    It is also possible to construe a moral argument against birth control, and before it was tied to the abortion question, it was rooted in notions of a woman's proper place, including the effective outcome that birth control would make women immoral by allowing them to have sex with who they want when they want, instead of properly by getting married to a husband who will tell her when to have sex and when to have a baby. In either case, there is a functional dissonance in the fact that the same people who oppose abortion want to make it harder for women to not get pregnant.

    It is also possible to construe a moral argument that it is a woman's job to prevent a man from raping her. This, however, is a bit more complex becauses it profits the moral authority in at least two ways. In the first, it is tied to the notion of a woman's proper place under a man. And, to the other, it relieves the rape culture that results from such hideous notions of the responsibility of doing anything to curb rape.

    So, within this aspect of the social conservative movement, we should not be surprised that the big winners in this are the men who hold the most levers of influence. It isn't so much morality in the end as a massive swindle of grotesque dimensions.

    And this is the challenge, the gap 'twixt abstraction and application. It's not always about religion per se, but we can also use a religious analogue: It's kind of like walking in Christ's footsteps. We know there is a better way, but simply saying we found it doesn't mean we actually have.

    And from there, people shape their morality according to their profit, and where there is enough common overlap between people of influence, that shape starts to assert itself over the larger society. As a result, the greatest sacrifices we demand of individuals most often have nothing at all to do with group maximization.

    The gap 'twixt abstraction and application.
  13. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    It is, in some circumstances. "That bridge is solid." had better be a true statement before the whole clan troops across it. In matters of physical fact relating to the safety and well-being of one's community, truth is of paramount importance.

    This is for the above reason. "Did Timmy climb on the roof?" needs to be answered truthfully, for Timmy's own good, even if he didn't want anyone to know. Young children are not competent to judge which facts adults need to know and which ones can be concealed.
    Later in life, one learns to keep quiet on some topics, to be diplomatic and considerate on others, and to differentiate private and public information.

    Truth-telling has an important function, but there are acceptable alternatives, besides lying, to telling every truth you think you know every time you open your mouth.
  14. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    But I ask, what is the truth?
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    "What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer." (Francis Bacon, 1601)
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Presumably, whatever it is, he couldn't handle it.

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  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

  18. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Religions tell us there are gods or god that made the entire universe but science says otherwise. Who then is telling the truth science or religion?
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Depends on how deeply one wishes to dive into truth.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The Rule of Laplace (or "Sagan's Law" as the American TV audience calls it) reminds us that extraordinary assertions must be supported by extraordinary evidence before we are obliged to treat them with respect.

    In the last 100 years or so, considerable evidence has been discovered to substantiate the scientific theory of the origin of the universe. The supernaturalists, on the other hand, have not presented one meager shred of evidence to support their assertion that it's all due to hocus-pocus.

    I'm sure you can figure this one out!
  21. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Oh I have but as you know there are millions of fellow humans that seem to think the truth is that something supernatural exists. So those who still think the truth is other than what we think are not telling the truth so why do they still think that way?
  22. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    It's not a case of "supernatural vs. non-supernatural", it's a case of supernatural A vs. supernatural B vs. supernatural C vs. supernatural D vs... etc. etc. vs. non-supernatural.

    Non supernatural is the only one that uses logic and reason to determine and explain what's really going on, and investigate causes to understand the reality of the situation.

    It just so happens that every explanation discovered by using logic and reason (the so-called "scientific method") turns out not to be supernatural, after all.
  23. M.S. Registered Member

    Well, it always depends upon the situation. I think that telling of truth all the time is not right and sometimes even unwise. For example, there can be situations when there's somebody who seems to be unsympathetic as a person to you. However, he didn't make anything bad for you. Thus, telling him the truth that you don't like him will be just out of place.

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