Honesty is always the best policy… except when it’s not.
Truth be told (pun intended), honesty can be evil, vicious, a vice if you will.
Honesty is an action, in order to attach morality to it, consider the following;
vice /vaɪs/ noun.
1. an immoral or evil habit or practice.
Synonyms: fault, failing, foible, weakness.
2. immoral conduct; depraved or degrading behavior: a life of vice.
Synonyms: depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, corruption. Antonyms: virtue, morality.
3. sexual immorality, especially prostitution.
Synonyms: wantonness, degeneracy, licentiousness.
4. a particular form of depravity.
5. a fault, defect, or shortcoming: a minor vice in his literary style.
Synonyms: flaw, blemish, imperfection, foible, weakness.
If we accept that vices are that which cause harm and, honesty can cause harm then honesty can be a vice.
Twisted hey? Not really, this notion of truth being vice and dishonesty being virtuous can be better understood through Aristotle’s theories of virtue.
Aristotle’s theory on virtue states that virtue is the mean (the middle ground) between extremes. For example, consider the “sphere of action” or feeling of fear.
The excess of fear is cowardice.
The deficiency of fear is conceit or arrogance.
The middle ground between cowardice and conceit is courage.
Thus, courage is virtuous.
Another example, anger;
The excess of anger is irrationality.
The deficiency of fear is a lack of spirit/passion.
The middle ground between passionate and irrational is patience
Thus, patience is virtuous
Virtue ethics (the stuff above) identifies the character of the person as the driving force for ethical behaviours.
Let it be known that there are other approaches to virtue, most popularly
deontology: rules-based (i.e., lying is wrong. period. no ifs and/or buts)
consequentialism: what’s wrong and what’s right is based on the outcome or consequences of the act. (i.e, the ends justifies the means).
You’ll probably be able to identify immediate examples of these in your daily life? Being brought up in a strict household, you might be more familiar with a deontological approach to ethics. If you’re more involved in politics, then the latter approach (ends justifies the means) might be a more prominent example.
However we justify it, at the end of the day, that’s what WE do— we justify it. Right becomes relative. Other factors delude facts, people hold higher precedence. Personalities trump principles.
We create our truths, we create our lies.
We create our virtues and our vices.
We create our chaos.
What’s YOUR chaos?