Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
ADS

Lying & Privacy

2 posts in this topic

Dr. Bernstein,

In the "Honesty" section in OPAR, Dr. Peikoff wrote the following:

There are men other than criminals or dictators to whom it is moral to lie.  For example, lying is necessary and proper in certain cases to protect one's privacy from snoopers.

I was wondering if you had any thoughts as to what Dr. Peikoff may be thinking of here. What would be an example of a circumstance in which it would be moral to lie, in order to protect one's privacy from non-criminal snoopers?

Thanks in advance!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is Andrew Bernstein's reply to the question posed by ADS.

Dear Alex,

As you know, Ayn Rand draws a distinction between lying and dishonesty. The latter always involves an attempt to gain an unearned value, something that does not belong to you.

But a man might deliberately tell a falsehood in order to protect himself from those who, in one way or another, would harm him. The major examples, as you pointed out, are criminals of all types.

But someone might make your life unpleasant or painful without initiating force against you. Remember an individual has a right to a personal life and to privacy. For example, if two consenting adults have a love relationship that,  for whatever reason, they are not willing to disclose, they have a right to their privacy. If someone asks the man "Are you sleeping with Mary?" what could he say? If he answers, "None of your business" or "No comment," he reveals his reluctance, along with the obvious reason for it. But, in fact, it is none of the questioners' business. To protect the privacy of his love relationship with Mary, he has every right to tell the obtrusively prying questioner a lie. It is not dishonest because he does not seek an unearned value. He already has Mary's love and every individual has a right to privacy. The lie is merely a means of telling the snooper to "kiss off" without giving him the unearned information he seeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0