Saturday, 20 March 2010

Hypocrisy

...or rather the fear of the accusation of it, sometimes stops us from saying things we should.

Is it hypocritical to say I believe lying is wrong, even though I am myself mendacious? If I said lying is wrong and also said or implied that of course I never lie - that’s hypocrisy.

The alternative is to say that moral behaviour is defined as the way I behave - and believe me, that would be a poor morality indeed!

5 comments:

madame evangelista said...

I don't think the last thing necessarily follows. There's an issue of credibility. If you tell other people not to lie, but are deliberately lying yourself on a regular basis, why would anyone take you seriously? Of course no one is perfect, but I do think there's a lot to the saying 'actions speak louder than words'.

Ben Trovato said...

That's a very fair point. Clearly we should strive to live by the values we proclaim. But the fact we may not do so perfectly should not mean we have to shy away from proclaiming them.

I also think there is a distinction to be drawn between saying 'Lying is wrong' and telling others not to lie.

Patricius said...

There are worse things than hypocrisy. Indeed, I once heard hypocrisy defined as the tribute extracted by virtue from vice!

The Guild Master said...

Another point: who is it that is saying that lying is wrong? Is it you (who perhaps doesn't always practise what he preaches), or are you simply repeating a moral law given to you by Another (Who does)? If you don't believe in objective moral standards, then not practising what you preach is a real problem. But if you do and you believe in the natural law (and "lying is wrong" is part of it) then it's only your own conduct that's up for criticism, not the principle itself, which is surely the point?

Ben Trovato said...

Good point, GM!