Aug 17, 2022Liked by Resident Contrarian

Funny story . . . my seven-year-old daughter got mad at me because I changed my mind about buying circus peanuts at the store last week. All the way home she kept muttering, "You LIED!" When we got home I asked her if saying I would buy candy, and then changing my mind, counted as a lie; she said yes. Then I asked her if saying I wouldn't buy candy, and then changing my mind and buying it anyway, counted as a lie; she said no, that wouldn't be a lie, that's just changing my mind about something and that's okay. So . . . maybe I should run her through your game and see what happens.

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Looking up "SCAPUDE" now.... Enjoyed this, my thoughts just before finishing the "lying is bad, other things are worse" track were something like 'lying violates the rules, but all law - good and bad - has some exceptions...'

One personal example was whilst caregiving for my dementia/alzheimers riddled Grandmother, telling the white lie that my Grandfather - dead lo these many years - was out fishing or gone on a hunting trip was much less hurtful than reminding her of the truth.

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CONCAVE: Gee, you think you can characterise my entire moral system based on my answer to one question? I’d be mad, but, well, I am in fact a feminist virtue ethicist, so you’re not totally wrong.

You’re wrong about my system reducing to consequentialism, though. Or, at least, you’re going to have to do a lot more work before I accept that conclusion.

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Aug 21, 2022·edited Aug 21, 2022

I'm possibly a Do-What-I-Want Chaos-Monster (CARTMAN), but I'd like to think I'm a Logical Consequentialist Desire Acknowledger (DEFERENTSTROKES) - this outcome actually feels fairly close to my intuitive approach to this, other people value the truth so I'd avoid lying just because I thought it would make them happy, lying should only be used to avoid a high probability of tangible harm.

I guess the one complexity is that there's a spectrum between total honesty and complete fiction, I'd rather lie by omission than make stuff up entirely, but I can understand why you'd ignore that for the purpose of the hypothetical.

I feel that the way you presented Virtue Ethics as being primarily concerned with personal growth feels a bit unfair, because that doesn't actually sound very virtuous to me - it sounds too self-centered, I don't think someone who genuinely was virtuous would think about it in that way. That said, I am a little weird in my approach to this, on reflection I'm basically a consequentialist who thinks adopting a virtue ethics informed approach to human flourishing solves most of the problems of utilitarianism ("Actually, I don't let people do the morally reprehensible thing that they enjoy, precisely because I care about what's best for them." - that sort of thing). That probably guided my decision a bit, I think honesty is by default good for me and for other people, so lying is a cost that needs to be outweighed by a larger benefit.

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I almost laughed out loud when you linked me to Sadly, Porn. As it happens, I actually followed the advice on page 704 re: Abstain from Beans, and it ended up in a really weird place.

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I enjoyed this game quite a bit. I am new to the idea of virtue ethics, I'm pretty sure I never even heard the word "deontologist" until one to two weeks ago, and I think it was from reading your blog.

I found the questions to be difficult. Or maybe I found the answers difficult, not sure if those are the same thing. I had to think for a while before I answered, and most of the time I wasn't sure if the answer really matched what I thought. But the game got me to think about new things, which is really good. Anyway, I had to go through it several times to see where it ended.

On the first pass I ended at Risk Averse Consequentialist - GETSOMETHICKERSKINYOUCOWARD. That seems about right, and it wouldn't surprise me if that is what others would categorize me as.

Second pass resulted in CONCAVE - Ethics-of-Care Virtue Ethicist. This is closer to how I think of myself, probably.

Third pass resulted in REALITYISVIRTUAL - Ideal-Seeking Anti-Lie Realist. I like the "Ideal-Seeking Realist" descriptor. I didn't run through all the options to see if there was a "Reality-Seeking Idealist".

I didn't play it three times seeking to improve my score (whatever that means), I really wasn't sure which answer reflected how I felt. If you had asked me what my attitude about lying was before I played this game, I would have said that lying is bad because it is too hard to keep track of all your lies and eventually you will get caught. And for virtue ethics, probably I would go with Matthew 10:7, you know a tree by it's fruit. Which is Zen.

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I experience myself as honest and well-intentioned except under duress, but what I know about people indicates that this is an illusion (à la "Elephant in the Brain"). Starting with the premise that honesty is neither good or bad because it doesn't exist and trying to answer the questions 'honestly' I got 'chaos monster', which is an apt description of any human.

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This experiment was 100% up my alley (surprising noone).

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Interesting, but perhaps not exactly accurate. I feel like honesty should be the default, but that it's somewhat easily defeated, and you have to balance long-term with short-term good. Seems like a lot of stuff like this comes down to something squishy like "judgment," and isn't easily captured in binary choices. But it was fun.

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For anyone who likes this, [Battlefield God](https://www.philosophyexperiments.com/god/Default2.aspx) and the rest of the interactive philosophy experiments on https://www.philosophyexperiments.com/ are written in a very similar style, with a similar subject matter.

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I enjoyed the concept...fun deviation from the usual.

My only complaint is that there wasn't an obvious track for me because I rarely wanted to go with one of the two binaries of "yes" or "no."

Generally, I think that lying is a bad idea, because it is hard to keep lying contained. Generally, people tend to lie or tend to tell the truth. It ends up being (mostly) a habit rather than (mostly) a choice. I also think that lies that might effect a good short-term outcome often have bad long-term consequences. For example, deceptive public health messaging that coerces desired behavior -- if it is at any point revealed to be deceptive -- tends to "work" one time only. (Sorry if that example is too political or on the nose...I don't mean to be a jerk, but it is a useful example.)

So, I am against lying...except in exceptional cases, which I can't really define. That's my self-described category!

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