The virtue of honesty, which has already received some discussion in these pages, requires allegiance to the truth in dealing both with oneself and with others. Dishonest persons count on others remaining blind to their vice; thus they are dependent on the non-thinking of others. What little success they enjoy is therefore limited to their dealings with less rational people—people who in any case typically have few objective values to offer. Furthermore, as we have already noted (pp. 3.4:3-6), dishonest individuals can never predict when their schemes will blow up; consequently, they must constantly struggle to maintain their lies.

What is the proper scope of application for the principle of honesty? If honesty means allegiance to the truth, then we must understand that we cannot convey the truth without first recognizing the context of knowledge of those with whom we deal. If another person stubbornly and irrationally refuses to face reality, then no one can compel him or her to do so, and we are not obliged to persist in a fruitless effort to wake that person to the truth. Every student of this course has doubtless encountered such persons and can recognize how pointless such efforts become.      Next page

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