Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it Periphery Fire TV Stick Health, Household and Grocery Back to School Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Segway miniPro STEM
Customer Review

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but honestly could be better, September 24, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Lying (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
It's hard to judge the length of a kindle book, but this one is short enough to be considered a good chapter. It's Sam Harris, so it's well put, succinct, and a pleasure to ponder. He makes some excellent points about the effects, costs, and alternatives to lying - even small lies - and I believe I may become an even more honest person because of it.

Lying, he says, is "almost by definition a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. ... To lie is to recoil from relationship." This is a brilliant observation, and it's almost seems like common sense. Harris goes on to make a case for vigilant truth-telling, quite well.

It is a strong argument, but it's not airtight. State secrets present an exception, he points out; espionage sometimes requires a complex set of lies. But spies, Harris says, operate under the ethics of war and therefore the "ethics of emergency," and are therefore not only exempt from the golden rule of truth-telling, they are irrelevant exceptions. "We can draw no more daily instruction from the lives of spies than we can from the adventures of astronauts in space. Just as most of us need not worry about our bone density in the absence of gravity, we need not consider whether our every utterance could compromise national security." This begs a question. Without a limiting definition of "emergency," emergency ethics *are certainly relevant to daily life. There is a spectrum of emergencies. I've had emergencies. If on one end lying is ok, the other end not -- doesn't that suggest a spectrum of wrongness to lying, as well?

As I read through it, interesting questions arose for me which unfortunately were not addressed. If lying is, as Harris explains, closely related to selective omission and calculated deception, how would this bear on the ethics of attorneys, of politicians, or to anyone engaged in debate? Can't truth emerge from biased perpsectives bearing down on each other from various angles? Harris, an expert in debate, would be the one to comment. In field of deception, especially if the audience is half-attentive (this may include politics, and advertising), does it become more acceptable to be deceiptful in return? To counter deception with deception? He addresses this to some extent, but not to my satisfaction.

What of implicators -- those crafty, slippery statements which mean two things, each of which can be denied. They can be false and true at the same time. Wrong? Half-wrong?

What about lying in nature? Camoflage or mimicry, for instance, is a lie. But is this not useful to survival? Survival itself, of course, has already answered this question. Now that doesn't make lying the best strategy for success and it certainly doesn't make it right. Harris points out the long-term costs and short-term risks of lying quite well. But one must admit -- there's something pretty appealing about camoflage.

And how about self-deception, lying to one's self. We're fabulously equipped to do this; it may well explain a good part of how we function.. It's a major theme in evolutonary psychology, but doesn't seem to be addressed.

Finally, many of Harris' arguments against lying rely on the difficulty of maintaining a lie and the potential cost of being found out. What then of a lie that has no chance of being detected and has no maintenance needs -- not so bad? If someone lies in an anonymous chat room, for example. I'm sure he would say it was wrong, but why?

To conclude, his argument for the personal policy of "never lie" is short, sweet, and thought provoking. And it is Good. But it didn't have his typical depth, and wasn't quite convincing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]

Comments

Track comments by e-mail

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 16, 2014 10:42:26 AM PDT
I read this review in order to decide whether or not I wanted to buy this book and if the content would be definitive ....alas , according to this review, it is not. Should I buy it anyway??? Why take Tintin's word for its indecisiveness ? What the heck! I'll buy it anyway and draw my own conclusions. I may even write my own review.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Chicago IL

Top Reviewer Ranking: 106,232