Many people argue that lying is a selfish act and those who tell lies only do this to benefit themselves rather than the receivers of the lie. For instance, people would lie to get a job, better commissions, better grades or even promotions at work. Others will lie to achieve some psychological rewards such as respect, esteem or affection. All of these are selfish wants (Poythress 2013, Pg. 83). With this argument, they conclude that lying is wrong because it amounts to a lot of trouble and thus people should always tell the truth and face the consequences. I do not agree with this conclusion and even if I agree that a lie is still a lie, at times lying is not always wrong.
To begin with, it is a good norm to contribute to other people’s happiness, and this is one reason why a lie might be justified. For instances telling a ‘white lie’ can be acceptable (Perkins & Turiel 2007, Pg. 609). I remember when my close friend bought some new clothes and showed them to me the same day, I lie to him. I could see that they weren’t suitable for him, but I couldn’t tell him, and so I said they are fine because I knew it would have upset him. I also lied about my mood after I broke up with my fiancé because that’s the face my friends and parents wanted me to show. Secondly telling the truth uplifts ones feeling because some truths might end up hurting other people more than the lie would do. For instance, if an accident occurs and a child who loses both parents in it asks about them, it would be justified to tell him that the parents are okay until he is stronger to hear the truth. If such a child was told the truth from the beginning, he might be distressed and may never recover from it. Thus, in some special circumstances, one needs to lie to avoid causing trouble to other people.
Some social relationship theorists believe that people lie to avoid conflicts and other forms of ill will. They also argue that when people lie about their opinions, feeling or preferences, it is possible to receive better responses rather than negative ones (Perkins & Turiel 2007, Pg. 609). I agree with them because if for instance one lies about a job experience in an interview and this helps him to gain the job, he can make up for this lie by complementing his skills and knowledge to suit the job description. Thus to me lying, is not always wrong as long as the truth never comes out and if it ever comes out the consequences are not more than it would have been if the truth was told in the first place.
In conclusion, lying can sometimes help to avoid troubles especially when one tell lies to bring happiness to others or to preventing hurting others and also to help realize some dreams that otherwise would not have been achieved. In addition to these, I would argue against the principle portrayed by people who say that ‘lying is wrong’ because I consider this a tautological principle. It is a moral principle that does not give room for conditions and has no connection with any argument supporting specific moral judgments. Apparently, when this principle is stated as ‘lying is wrong except when saving life’ this opens for argument about right or wrong doings rather than just lying or not lying. It gives rise to the unconditional moral principle that requires both justification and exception (Margolis 1963, pg. 414). The new principle replaces the old one, and this amounts to a conclusion that that lying is not always wrong.