Numer 7/2014

Temat numeru: Kłamstwo, etyka troski, śmierć

Number 7/2014

Issue Topic: The lie, ethics of care, death

List of abstracts

The article describes the educational lie on the basis of research findings of the philosophers of the 20th century (Hannah Arendt, Józef Tischner). It also presents notes by the author concerning the lie’s probable origin. The consequences of the educational lie are long-term, and concern the individual and the whole society. It causes the erosion of citizens’ trust of themselves and the state, which distorts the functioning of important institutions. A diploma which is not supported by knowledge gives rise to complexes, aggression, pathology, and feelings of superfluousness.
The relationship between truth and the good is not so simple as to say that truth is always good. And then, consequently, a lie is not always bad. If lying could sometimes be good, this raises the issue of indicating and characterizing circumstances in which lies are ethically permitted or even desired. According to general ethical principles, all human behavior is right if its purpose is to maximize good or minimize evil. Such an ethical function of lies is possible only if the general rule is truthfulness, and lying is merely an exception (if telling lies becomes a rule, we will face the paradox of a liar). This does not mean that it is impossible to indicate and formulate a universal way of justifying lies as benevolent. Universalizing, as R.M.Hare has presented, is different from generalizing. Exceptional does not mean and is not the same as accidental or arbitrary. Truth-telling ought to remain the general principle, and lying may be ethically justified by universalizing circumstances in which it is good or right, even if such circumstances are exceptional.
The goal of this article is to show that a lie cannot exist without normative principles of truthfulness as its opposite. Moreover, the ethical dimensions of the lie mentioned in the title would be impossible to determine if it weren’t for this reference. In this article we first specify the nature of the lie and its relation to truth and truthfulness. Next, we show the ethical dimensions of the lie, such as the opposition between the lie and truthfulness, allowing for an understanding of the values of truthfulness, defensive lies and lies contained in artistic creation (fiction). In this last dimension of the lie, many times the artist or thinker reveals more truth than common social discourse is able to tolerate.

The lie is a complex phenomenon, ambiguous and dependent upon many factors, such as motivation, social sensitivity and situational context. Despite the fact that it stands in opposition to truth and truthfulness, it remains, however, related to both values.

The article analyses Ingarden’s conception of truth in literature. According to Ingarden, a literary work of art consists of so-called quasi-judgments that are neither true nor false, and their main function is to create an intentional world. But there is the problem of how to distinguish quasi-judgments from ordinary judgments. According to Ingarden, we can distinguish quasi-judgments by recognizing their content and form. In other words, quasi-judgments have a distinct and specific quality that can be grasped by the reader. Consequently, although truthfulness can be considered as an aesthetic category, in Ingarden’s approach it cannot be understood in terms of adequacy between a judgment and reality. Truthfulness, according to Ingarden, has an ontological character instead, which means that the intentional world created within the work of art replaces the real world completely and it absorbs the reader’s full attention.
This paper describes the approach of empirical ethics, a form of ethics that integrates non-positivist ethnographic empirical research and philosophy. Empirical ethics as it is discussed here builds on the ‘empirical turn’ in epistemology. It radicalizes the relational approach that care ethics introduced to think about care between people by drawing in relations between people and technologies as things people relate to. Empirical ethics studies care practices by analysing their intra-normativity, or the ways of living together the actors within these practices strive for or bring about as good practices. Different from care ethics, what care is and if it is good is not defined beforehand. A care practice may be contested by comparing it to alternative practices with different notions of good care. By contrasting practices as different ways of living together that are normatively oriented, suggestions for the best possible care may be argued for. Whether these suggestions will actually be put to practice is, however, again a relational question; new actors need to re-localize suggestions, to make them work in new practices and fit them in with local intra-normativities with their particular routines, material infrastructures, know-how and strivings.
This article aims to consider the question posed in the title on the possibility of deciding the method and time of our own death in contemporary times. Firstly, problems related to artificial extension of human life in situations of incurable disease and in the face of an aging society will be considered. The issues discussed include access to euthanasia as well as the limits of human autonomy in the context of the decision to hasten death, with particular consideration of persistent and futile treatment. Second, the issues of aging are developed against the background of various cultures and eras. The text concludes with some considerations on the possibility of using a living will and advance directives.