Differences Of Lying And Not Telling The Truth (2024)

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Wordcount: 1160 wordsPublished: 1st May 2017

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Lying and not-telling the truth are different in their own right, and have moral and ethical implications associated with each one. This is not merely a matter of semantics; it is a matter of substance. By the use of analogy, there are major difference between justified and unjustified homicide. Murder is unjustified homicide and will always be considered wrong by a moral society. Not every instance of killing a person, however, is considered murder. In scenario’s of capital punishment and self-defense occasions can justified homicide. Similarly, in the case of a lie there is an unjustified discrepancy between what you believe and what you say, and so lying is may always be considered immoral. In some circ*mstances, not telling the truth in order to preserve a higher moral law may well be considered the right thing to do and thus is not actually a lie.

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While Kant asserted that lying, or deception of any kind, should be forbidden under any interpretation and in any circ*mstance. He stated this because if it is universally acceptable to lie, then no one would believe anyone and all truths would always be assumed to be lies or deceptions. He also stated that the right to deceive an individual couldn’t also be used because it would discard the rights of the person being deceived as an end in itself. Therefore, Kant denied the right to lie or deceive any person for any reason, regardless of context or anticipated consequences. While Kant proclaimed this notion of never lying, there are pitfalls in his “universalizing.” Throughout these examples the pitfalls of Kant’s universal laws will be exposed.

There are several circ*mstances that not telling the truth wouldn’t be considered a lie. For instance in the case of national security, the United States government might omit or falsify information that is given to the public to ultimately protect their own interests or assets. For example, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf during the lead up to the first Gulf War he was known to give many press conferences leading up to the invasion. During these press conferences not all the information that he presented regarding his invasion strategy could be considered a full truth. During this time Schwarzkopf would have falsified information about the invasion date to the media, in effort to deceive them. While knowing that this information was a non-truth, this information mislead the enemy and gave the United States military a strategic advantage. In effect by not-telling the truth, Schwarzkopf gave the military the element of surprise, which could have resulted in saving thousands of American lives. Should Schwarzkopf be considered a liar in this case? In this case, while Schwarzkopf had been telling false-truths it was done for moral reasons and shouldn’t be considered a lie. Since the ends justify the means it is morally acceptable by not telling the truth and it shouldn’t be construed as a lie.

While in the previous scenario not telling the truth isn’t considered lying, there are other situations cannot be interpreted in the same fashion. If an omission of the truth is used to mislead or deceive someone for your own greater ends, or for an immoral goal, then the non-truth cannot be construed in the same way. For instance during the most recent financial collapse many banks and financial firms mislead the country and their clients about the value of different products they were trying to sell. Since their intentions were to mislead, or deceive their clients on the sole purpose to turn a profit, thus it cannot be considered a morally justified act. If the intentions of these firms like Goldman Sachs wasn’t done to mislead, but done in the interests of their clients, unknowing the unfortunate consequence’s. Then this company shouldn’t be considered a liar, but unfortunately they knowing lied and mislead their clients. Since the act was done for malice, and for their own greed, then their act of deception must be considered a blatant lie.

While in most cases, such as the one’s already presented the distinction between “lying” and “not-telling the truth” are made quite clear. On the other hand, these distinctions cannot always be viewed in black and white, but in varying shades of gray. If the intentions of the “lie” is not done for your own self-interest’s, or for your own ends, but done in a manner to save a person from embarrassment and humiliation, thus it cannot be considered a lie. For example if a loved one asks “am I over weight?” While knowing all along the answer is “yes” is it in their best interest and yours to be absolutely blunt with them? If their condition isn’t life threating or will cause ailment to the individual in the future, then the act of lying to protect their feelings isn’t morally wrong and should be considered a lie. If your wife asks you “does this dress look good?” while knowing all along that you don’t like the dress, telling her what she wants to hear doesn’t harm or effect anyone. If in the situation you have nothing to gain and your purpose is to protect the other person from pain or grief then not telling the truth, may be the right thing to do and therefore morally acceptable.

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While distinctions between “lying” or “not-telling the truth” can be made. Is the omission of details considered lying? For instants let’s say you are being interrogated for a crime, during the interrogation you answer all the questions truthfully and only answer the question that was precisely given. Even though you might have committed this crime, should the omission of details shouldn’t be considered lying? It’s the fault of the interrogator not asking the proper questions during the interview which lead them from not discovering the whole truth. Thus since no false-truths were given to any of the questions the one being interrogated shouldn’t be perceived as a liar.

Throughout this essay many examples were given to help clarify the distinction between “lying” and “not-telling the truth.” In all cases, to label someone a “liar” certain factors must be met to determine whether an individual telling a “lie” or just simply “not-telling the truth.” The most major underlying distinctions between them is the intentions of the person telling the lie. If the lie is done so in a manner that doesn’t harm or cause pain to the person, and has moral and ethical intentions, then the person shouldn’t be considered a liar. Contrariwise, if the individuals intentions are to deceive or cause harm to another individual, then the intentions are clear on what they wish to achieve, thus should be labeled a liar.

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Differences Of Lying And Not Telling The Truth (2024)


What is the difference between a lie and not telling the truth? ›

A lie is an untruthful assertion. The speaker intends to cause belief in the truth of a statement that the speaker believes to be false. Hence, a lie involves an intention to deceive. The speaker also implicitly assures or promises the hearer that the statement that is made is true.

Is there a difference between lying and not saying anything? ›

Not all lies involve saying things that aren't true.

Sometimes you might omit specific details to avoid an unpleasant reaction or to spare someone's feelings. And you might have wondered, “Is omitting considered lying?” The short answer is yes.

What is the difference between lying and not being honest? ›

In a more general sense, if someone knowingly says something that is not true, they are telling a lie. But if they unknowingly say something that is not true, they are being honest.

What is not lying but not telling the truth? ›

While the noun prevarication is mostly just a fancy way to say "lie," it can also mean skirting around the truth, being vague about the truth, or even delaying giving someone an answer, especially to avoid telling them the whole truth.

What is different between truth and lie? ›

Answer: The difference is that truth will always remain true, no matter any intervening factors. Whereas, if the truth and lie are indistinguishable, it is no longer clear-cut and relies on society to determine such.

Why do people lie and not tell the truth? ›

The main reason people lie is low self-esteem. They want to impress, please, and tell someone what they think they want to hear. For example, insecure teenagers often lie to gain social acceptance. Here, parents should emphasize to their children the consequences of lying.

Is withholding the truth the same as lying? ›

It's the difference between active and passive deception. Withholding information is the suppression of truth rather than the expression of untruth that characterises a lie. Both are designed to deceive, but withholding information makes a secret of the truth - it doesn't distort it.

Is omitting the truth a form of lying? ›

This withholding of information, or omission, is still lying because there is the intent to deceive. Lying by omission is still lying, even if you didn't directly tell a falsehood. People lie by omission for many different reasons, such as due to fear, shame, or guilt.

What are the three types of lying? ›

The three most commonly referred to are lies of commission, lies of omission, and lies of influence, aka character lies.

Why do people lie instead of being honest? ›

Avoiding punishment is the most frequent reason people tell serious lies, regardless of their age, whether it be to avoid the speeding ticket or being grounded. In serious lies there is a threat of significant damage if the lie is discovered: loss of freedom, money, job, relationship, reputation, or even life itself.

What is lying without knowing? ›

Pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying. Unlike telling the occasional white lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings or getting in trouble, a pathological liar seems to lie for no apparent reason.

What is the act of not telling the truth? ›

lie1. / (laɪ) / verblies, lying or lied. (intr) to speak untruthfully with intent to mislead or deceive.

Is it sometimes better to lie than to tell the truth? ›

Mild and well-intentioned deception can be even more beneficial in distant relationships, says Levine. “In more competitive relationships or first interactions, honesty is a lot more precarious, can damage relationships and reduce trust,” she says.

How can you tell the difference between truth and false? ›

The most important attempt at a definition of this sort is the theory that truth consists in coherence. It is said that the mark of falsehood is failure to cohere in the body of our beliefs, and that it is the essence of a truth to form part of the completely rounded system which is The Truth.

What is 3 truths and a lie? ›

How to play: Provide each person with two slips of paper and a pen or pencil. On one sheet of paper, instruct everyone to write down four statements about themselves. Three of the statements should be true and one of them should be false. Allow everyone about five minutes to come up with four good statements.

What are the 7 reasons to lie? ›

7 reasons why people lie
  • To create excitement. Believe it or not, everyone lies just about every day...even you! ...
  • To pacify or appease others. Making others happy is a good thing. ...
  • To get rewards. ...
  • To avoid punishment. ...
  • To get attention. ...
  • To get sympathy. ...
  • To test trust.
Oct 27, 2016

Why is lying always wrong? ›

Lies are morally wrong, then, for two reasons. First, lying corrupts the most important quality of my being human: my ability to make free, rational choices. Each lie I tell contradicts the part of me that gives me moral worth. Second, my lies rob others of their freedom to choose rationally.

Why is it important to tell the truth? ›

The Importance of Truth. Truth matters, both to us as individuals and to society as a whole. As individuals, being truthful means that we can grow and mature, learning from our mistakes. For society, truthfulness makes social bonds, and lying and hypocrisy break them.

Does lying hurt more than the truth? ›

Truth, addressed and delivered with care, is much better than a lie, no matter how small it may seem. The lie will always cause more hurt in the end. If you have ever been lied to, you are familiar with this feeling of disrespect, betrayal and insecurity. Your version of the truth is completely discredited.

What is defensive lying? ›

"When a liar becomes hostile or defensive, he is attempting to turn the tables on you," says Glass. The liar will get hostile because he is angry that you've discovered his lies, which may result in a lot of pointing.

What justifies lying? ›

The reasons why we think lies in such situations are acceptable are: The good consequences of the lie are much greater than the bad consequences. Such lies are told to protect innocent persons who would otherwise suffer injustice. Such lies are told to prevent irreversible harm being done.

What do liars say when confronted? ›

For example, when confronted about something, they may reply with a murky statement such as "Would I do such a thing?" or even "I wouldn't do such a thing," rather than a straightforward "I didn't do it." Another indication of deception is using unnecessary words in a statement that make its meaning less clear.

Where do liars look when lying? ›

The direction of their eyes: A 2012 study published in Plos One debunked the myth people look to the left when lying. A study by the University of Michigan found when participants lied, they maintained eye contact 70% of the time.

What are the five signs someone is lying to you? ›

5 Signs Someone Is Lying To You
  • Inconsistent body language. While having a conversation, if someone consistently avoids making eye contact or maintains an unnaturally fixed gaze, it could indicate that they are being dishonest.
  • Lack of eye contact. ...
  • Sudden change in vocal tone. ...
  • Verbal inconsistencies. ...
  • Unusual sweating.
20 hours ago

What personality type lies the most? ›

People who are more manipulative (as measured by a Machiavellianism scale and a measure of Social Adroitness) lie more often than people who are less manipulative. Manipulative people tend to care about themselves, so you might also think that liars are generally people who do not care about other people.

How do narcissists lie? ›

Narcissists also lie by withholding and selecting information. They lie as a form of gaslighting to extend their control over targets by making them constantly question and doubt themselves. They often frequently claim that they value and even love their targets. In doing so, they have little to no inhibitions.

What is the most common lying? ›

Top 20 most common lies
  • 'I forgot'
  • 'I'll do it tomorrow'
  • 'I am listening'
  • 'I'm busy then'
  • 'Nice to see you'
  • 'I haven't got any change'
  • 'I've got no money'
  • 'I got stuck in traffic'
Oct 24, 2022

What is a narcissistic liar? ›

The narcissistic liar

This type of person never admits to making a mistake, even when the mistake could be a growth opportunity for your PR team. He or she is often a "people person" seeking attention when things go right, bragging or exaggerating accomplishments, while being quick to place blame and criticize others.

Should I tell the truth even if it hurts someone? ›

Emotions May Get Hurt

If a family member or friend hurts you, you should correct them by telling the truth. It will be beneficial for them and even your relationship in the long run. So, don't be scared of hurting emotions and say it as it is but in a humble tone.

Can you be honest but not truthful? ›

Honesty and truthfulness are not the same thing. Being honest means not telling lies. Being truthful means actively making known all the full truth of a matter. Lawyers must be honest, but they do not have to be truthful.

What mental illness is associated with lying? ›

Lying can be a symptom of some mental health conditions according to a 2021 review, including borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may lie to mask compulsions or stop friends and family from worrying about their behaviors.

What is a delusional lie? ›

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a delusion is defined as: A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.

What is an obvious lie? ›

The term bold-faced lie refers to an obvious, shameless lie, one that the liar makes little or no effort to disguise as the truth.

What do you call someone who withholds the truth? ›

tergiversate Add to list Share.

When someone refuses to admit the truth? ›

In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person's choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth. Denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of a historical experience or event when a person refuses to accept an empirically verifiable reality.

What do you call someone who avoids telling the truth? ›

The word deceitful is a disapproving way to talk about someone or something that hides the truth. She's deeply deceitful and not to be trusted.

What are the two ways of lying? ›

There are two primary ways to lie: to conceal and to falsify. In concealing, the liar withholds some information without actually saying anything untrue. In falsifying, an additional step is taken. Not only does the liar withhold true information, but one presents false information as if it were true.

What are the biggest lies in life? ›

Here are 5 common lies we tell ourselves and ways to combat them to live in alignment with your authentic self.
  • “There is something inherently wrong with me.” ...
  • “When I achieve “x” then i will be happy.” ...
  • “Others have it together and i don't” ...
  • “I just need to stay positive.” ...
  • “I am not enough.”
Oct 8, 2020

Why telling the truth is more difficult than telling lies? ›

Why? It's because we're all viscerally connected to truth on a fundamental, physical and spiritual level. It's part of who we are and like a virus, we instinctively reject dishonesty. To override this natural impulse by telling lies, we generate immense amounts of resistant and negative energy in our bodies.

What are the negative effects of lying? ›

Lying often sets off a chain reaction and we end up telling many lies in quick succession to conceal the first lie. This makes us feel guiltier. Furthermore, psychological studies have linked lying to stress. Lie detector tests actually monitor a person's stress levels in response to different questions.

Should truth always be told? ›

Honesty is Always Your Best Policy

The boundaries of personal privacy may dictate how much information you reveal, but honesty should prevail. If you choose to tell a lie – even a little one – know that consequences may await you. You'll need to remember what you told and who you told it to.

What is it called when you lie by not telling the whole truth? ›

Perjury by Omission - American University Washington College of Law.

Is it a lie to withhold the truth? ›

There are two primary ways to lie: to conceal and to falsify. In concealing, the liar withholds some information without actually saying anything untrue. In falsifying, an additional step is taken. Not only does the liar withhold true information, but one presents false information as if it were true.

What is it called when you don't tell the truth? ›

Some common synonyms of lie are equivocate, fib, palter, and prevaricate. While all these words mean "to tell an untruth," lie is the blunt term, imputing dishonesty. lied about where he had been. When could equivocate be used to replace lie?

What are examples of deceptive lies? ›

Example: A friend invited you to their dinner party and asks how you liked their casserole dish. You thought it was disgusting but your respond with a dodge, saying, “Wow! I've never tasted anything like that before,” deceptively implying you enjoyed your meal without actually saying anything untrue.

What are the three form of lying? ›

Lay, Lie, Lied, Lain: When Do We Use Which? Britannica.

What is a person who always lies called? ›

Someone who lies a lot may be called a “pathological liar.” Dishonesty isn't a good habit, but it doesn't always fit the definition of pathological lying. ‌ Pathological liars are frequently untruthful for no good reason. They harm themselves with their behavior, but keep doing it despite any consequences‌.

What is unnecessary lying called? ›

Pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying. Unlike telling the occasional white lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings or getting in trouble, a pathological liar seems to lie for no apparent reason.

What is it called when you lie without thinking? ›

Pathological lying or lying compulsively can also be a symptom of antisocial personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.

What is one thing all liars have in common? ›

Liars withhold information

Even though good liars can remember small details, they know it's best to avoid getting tangled up in too much information. Liars will also purposefully leave details out of their fabricated stories as a way to manipulate you. Remember: not telling the whole truth is still considered lying.

Does Gaslighting mean lying? ›

Gaslighting is a form of psychological control, but not lying. Gaslighting targets the victim's mind to gain control and creates an imbalance of power. The gaslighter achieves this by intentionally distorting your reality. In other words, makes you feel like what you're seeing or feeling isn't real.


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