Truth is questionable, and so is honesty




On the second day of HowTheLightGetsIn festival at Hay, one of the panel debates turned to the question of whether lying is necessary, and even justified, for the smooth running of society. Psychologist Simon Baron Cohen, philosopher of swearing Rebecca Roache, and post-realist philosopher Hilary Lawson, argued over whether lying has anything to do with the truth and whether honesty is a crucial virtue, only to be violated in extreme circumstances, or whether honesty is in fact inappropriate more often than we think.   Nobody likes people lying to them. But don’t we all think it’s sometimes acceptable to do so? Even the morally right thing to do? Should we really all be as pedantic as Kant would like us to be and never lie, no matter what? Would society even function if everyone was 100% honest all the time? It’s hard to imagine. Yet, where do we draw the line? Are politicians allowed to lie a bit, just like the rest of us? And how can we tell whether someone is lying or not in an age …

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