Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Caplan on Tolstoy on Lying

Bryan Caplan reflects on lying and trust in light of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych. It has been a while since I read the story, but I remember liking it a great deal.

Caplan raises the issues of lying and trust. Specifically, in believing a lie or an untruth. Ivan Ilych is dying, but everyone tells him he's not. Are they doing it to be kind? Ivan thinks it unkind. They could be sympathizing with him more if they weren't lying to him and themselves about his condition. Everyone could say their goodbyes. But more, this lying undermines trust, and trust is a vital element for a society's well-being.  Of course, one has to have the right institutions in place to promote trust

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