Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fwd: Integrity

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Fri, May 16, 2008 at 8:16 AM

Dear Mr. McGowan:

Thanks for your thoughtful note, which happened to catch me at my desk.

Perhaps you are right, and I slightly overwrote.  I think a better way of
putting the point is that lying to obtain information is morally complex.  I
cannot accept the idea of a simple balancing test involving the value of the
information obtained.  I am well aware that law enforcement personnel lie, and
we spend a week on this in my course on Law, Secrets, and Lying.  We also study
lies by politicians (including whoppers on the subject of war by FDR, Lincoln,
Polk, and others).  The trouble is, any one of these lies can be justified if
we ask only about the end in view versus the utility to be gained.  But I tend
to agree with Sissela Bok, who, in her book "Lying" (which stands up very well
over the years), argues that precisely because lies are so easy to justify, it
is important to resist the temptation.  Otherwise, says Bok, we create a
culture in which cynicism reigns, trust is difficult, and ordinary life grows
increasingly coarse.

Again, than you so much for taking the time to write.


Stephen Carter

Quoting Marty McGowan <>:

Professor Carter,

  I'm writing you this brief note as a self-motivator to write a thorough
review of "Integrity".   I'd read "Culture of Disbelief" when it was new,
and find myself in general, if not considerable agreement with your

  However, this note is to call into question one thought in the book, on
p. 99 where you say:

No comments: