Friday, 3 February 2017

On lying

Last year David Deleiden rngaged in a sting operation to reveal the depraved Molochian Planned-Parenthood body-parts trade scandal.
Subsequently assorted 'Pro-Lifers' were quick to condemn David because in order to uncover the criminal activity he had to engage in deception and in the process 'tell lies'
Absolutist appeals were made to 'telling the truth is non-negotiable' and a moral absolute.
Lying is always expressly forbidden etc etc etc.
One may never perform evil so that a good may result etc etc
What followed was a denunciation of Peter Kreeft who argued 'of course there are times you must lie in order to defend the truth against those who do not deserve the truth'[para]
...and what resulted were many appeals to the arguments laid out by Edward Feser whereby he maintains indeed on Thomistic principles there is intrinsically absolutely never any excuse to be 'jesuitical'
Now I do not object to Dr Feser's analysis of the Moral Theory
But I do counter category-shift applications of the theory to occasions and circumstances where the actual definitions of what is being done are called into question.
Anyone readiing Part 2 od the Summa on Sin will be reminded that just as certains ostensible violations of one commandment are actually more grave sins against another - so too there are actions which apparently seem to be engaging in one thing when they are truly performing another.
I argue in these circumstances that is exactly what is happening:
Those who automatically condemned Deleiden for his actions are guilty of an oversimplified kantianism - they're denying any intentionality and final end - they're eradicating all 2nd fontal considerations - which is Grisez-ite neo-natural law pharisaism.
Yes indeed the Catholic position is indeed very clear -
It's just they're not following it - lying in its holism of formal and final ends is sinful - 'lying' in its formal nature is always inherently wrong but it is NOT intrinsically objectively evil - for it to be so requires the intentionality of the end to prevent the achievability of a good [ie which is in this case not being in error]
Lying objectively in any way, shape or form is always wrong - it is always morally disordered - but in order to be absolutely proscribed as an objective evil it requires that final end - otherwise it becomes something intrinsically morally disordered.
ie although normatively if committed to either its own natural end or any other natural morally disordering intentional end it is gravely sinful and absolutely forbidden
being an intrinsic moral disorder we have recourse to its utilisation in only one way - in emergency direct immediate reaction for grave reasons in the prevention of an actual objective evil [in the same way we can permit just war, lethal self-defence, submitting to rape rather than being killed, stealing bread to feed someone dying of starvation etc]
Aquinas himself argues of forfeiture of those acting in a bestial way - ie they cannot appeal to any injustice within an act when that act's direction to the Good and actuation of justice is preventing their injustice being fulfilled
Now an opponent might still attempt ot dismiss my claims as if they're consequentialist equivocations - that the ends justify the means etc
That's not what I'm saying
I'm arguing - just the same way Aquinas and the neo-scholastics and neo-thomists argue
that sin constitutes the form and the end
if the end is bad it is always gravely sinful and prohibited
but the form?
- only normatively [ie not absolutely always] gravely sinful unless it is an intrinsic objective evil
- and objective deception
- speaking falsely or incompletely to allow inference of error
- is not objectively evil
- otherwise silence or mental reservation or half-speaking and refraining from the whole truth would be mortally sinful at all times for any reason...

In order for speaking falsely to be an objective evil it requires intentionality for that very nature of falseness to be intended as to achieve the final end of error.
ie it has veered from the natural law - it does not have God as its gravitation or ultimate intended end.

When error or compounded error is NOT the intended end [rather it is the diminution of error - the defeat of deception - the destruction of a lie]
AND the ultimate end is the good - the conformity with the 'gravitation' of God's attraction.
it is double effect recourse to IMD deception in the prevention of evil
just like stealing back the diamonds from the thief is an IMD forcefully removing property to prevent the evil of that thief's retention of them.

It is very easy to fall into the Grisez/Finnis/Boyle trap of having worldly neo-natural law gradations of intentionality and ends if I commit A with sub-intention B for the intention of resultant C with the intention of conforming to God as the final end D.
I cannot be condemned on a kantian-basis  because A-B is normatively wrong - we're not talking about A-B - we're talking about A-D - the paradigm is rewritten.
It's like the recent planned parenthood farce - the C-stage intention was to unveil a grand deception - a diabolical lie which was slaughtering millions AND selling their body parts while the world looked on ignorantly and the corrupt conspirators in the culture of death thrived and continued their evil.
The only recourse to achieve this end was by using deception A to provoke truth telling about the reality B.
The ultimate end D being of course God
Now please tell me how this deception A fulfilled the criteria for lying in the CCC ?
[ie leading another into error]
...when rather than leading that person into error it actually led them to reveal an undisclosed truth about an evil practice
- ie it invoked a diminution of error and the ultimate prevention of the furtherance of their lies and deceptions which were leading the entire nation into error?.

If lying is defined as false talking which leads another into error and therefore away from God?
This isn't lying
it must be something else
ie deception - which is normatively sinful if committed to its own ends
But if committed towards other ends which actually defeats error , draws the perpetrator away from evil and error - and conforms to justice and the common good and the destruction of misinferred error among the people?
It's permissible double effect to prevent evil.

What looked like lying was in the larger framework a means of telling the truth to reveal a truth.

There is no inviolability of a truth-denier wilfully preventing a Good from being thwarted from achieving that end of denying that Good from another.
They have no sacrosanct right to not be lied to while that lie is being prevented from being achieved.
When one is wilfully deceiving one cannot appeal against recourse to being deceived - when the intention of that deception to lead that person OUT OF ERROR [ie contrary to the very nature of lying as defined in the CCC] rather than compounding the error - when one is in the process of deceiving oneself.
Arguing otherwise is ignoring the actual natural law holism of the formal nature of lying which requires both formal cause and final cause. Natural law is a gravitation to conformity of action towards an End which is Infinitely Good in being God.
We're not kantians!
Objectivity and subjectivity are two sides of the same coin
It would  also be arguing a non-contra-positive and pleading the obverse - just because all snow is white it does not mean that all that is not snow is not white.
It's classifying a lie without paying any attention to its consequent - a lie has direct intentionality towards a specific end - when that end does not exist it becomes something formally different from its presumptive nature see Pt 2 of the Summa esp 110.
The unjust aggressor indeed does not cease to be human but an act committed to retain and protect their humanity [ie preventing them from being a killer] even if by recourse to a negative double effect of engaging in an intrinsically morally disordered act to prevent a grave objective evil occurring by default.... let's alter the paradigm from 'right to protection of innocent life' to  that of 'a right to the Truth'

The Liar deserves to be thwarted in their lying by an act appealing to the Truth even if that includes recourse to an intrinsically morally disordered act like deception to prevent that grave objective evil of Lying from occurring.
[remembering - as Feser and the neo-scholastics keep reminding us - lying is wrong insofar as it is actually lying and actually intends that end of being a lie for the sake of lying - if it is not deliberately willing and intending to achieve that end it cannot be that which it is claimed in its objective nature - in the same way attempting to save one's life from an unjust aggressor could not be deemed attempted murder]
To those who want to become a deontological absolutist I'm afraid you'll find no solace in Aquinas....

Now  four additonal points:

a] Tollefsen rightly dismisses the Jesuitical appeal to a hyperbolised extended moral reservation that the truth is only mandatory for those who positively afford it [ie deserve] the truth - BUT in the process he imposes a potentially false paradigm of axiomatic moral neutrality upon the person being deceived - that desert of truth is an irrelevance in regard to the objective act of the person 'deceiving or lying' - that would indeed be the case if the third font circumstances were neutral - but what if they aren't?

b] Tollefsen rushes over the direct intentionality and the 'achievable end' which is being thwarted and prevented through the act of lying - which is exactly what the revised CCC definition clarifies - it is the wilful prevention/thwarting of a person reaching an achievable end of being in non-error - BUT what if this is intrinsically impossible already as they are already immediately directly in a state of intrinsic error?

c] Tollefsen also rushes over the morality behind Aquinas's justification of the army using diversionary feint tactics to allow the enemy to misinfer one's future acts
- this is wilful deception by omission
- it's not an actuation of mental reservation
- it's instead a willed act with the intentionality to deceive
- allowing the person to be led into error by their own rationale
- so why is this permissible?
Obviously it can't be the Jesuitical 'they are 'not deserving of the truth'
BUT the paradigm is so nearly-identical in effects that there must be some valid form of congruent causal justification within the primary and secondary fonts of morality
- so what is it?
- and is there an available analogy or a moral precedent elsewhere?

d] The answer is right in front of us
- it's innocence
- and the potential to reach that achievable end of non-error
- rather than the Jesuit negative prevention and with-holding
- what if this is obverted into a positive moral obligation to maintain the sanctity of truth towards the innocent who are able to achieve that end of being in non-error?

Just as the sanctity of life is reserved to innocent life....
[hence we have recourse to endanger life through just war and self-defence and even [intellectually hypothetically speaking] exact punishment upon those who have forfeited their life via the death penalty]

....So too can we utilise this precedent in regard to our moral obligation and duty/responsibility to those who are innocent - and although that would include those who were circumstantially, motivationally, conditionally non-innocent - it would not include those who were objectively intrinsically non-innocent

We are permitted recourse to self-defence in the promotion of life against a culpable direct immediate unjust aggressor who by their actions has forfeited the appeal to the inviolablity of their life by intrinsically defying that principle

By precedent we must also be permitted recourse to self-defence [via deception] in the promotion of truth against a culpable direct immediate unjust deceiver who by their actions has forfeited their right to the whole truth by intrinsically defying that principle through their actions.

The deceiver is already in a state of intrinsic abrogation of the truth - they cannot be led into any more error via deception - rather the reverse by secondary consequents
in the same way an unjust aggressor who is not killed by someone defending themself is prevented from becoming a murderer
the same way a prosecution lawyer via deception tricks a criminal into confessing their crimes and through punishment and reform has the opportunity for moral conversion
the same way a person hiding the jews from the nazis and deceiving them prevents them from becoming the murderers of those jews
the same goes for police and the military in sting operations to prevent criminality and terrorism
ditto the justification of espionage to save lives and diminish the war-crimes of the invading aggressor.

The Principles become:
The affording of the sanctity of life to the innocent
The affording of the sanctity of truth to the innocent.

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