Posted by: KG | Sunday, November 5, 2006

பொய்மையும் வாய்மை இடத்து [ (When can) falsehood come in the place of truth ]

.. goes the popular thirukkural. It goes onto say that falsehood can come in the place of truth if it results in real goodness.

An interesting question for Science is whether it can hide a truth (or choose not to pursue it) if revealing it will lead to dire consequences. Suppose, a scientist knows that a world war will be impending if a scientific truth he has discovered is made known to the public, should he go ahead and make the “truth” known? (I assume the purpose of science is to find the truth and communicate it to the rest of the world)

While Thiruvalluvar was so sure then, this question is really difficult to answer now and might be highly situation dependent. Probably the magnitude of issues weren’t so serious then. Obviously, there was no fear of something like a nuclear war. Maybe Valluvar’s scope was limited to not getting a thrashing from his wife for being wayward or something like that! 🙂

Getting back to the question, I know most of you would say the scientist should hide the truth if he’s so sure for the sake of humanity . The logic being, a nuclear war is a sufficiently serious reason to relax ethics. But what is “sufficiently serious” ? If ethics can be relaxed, on what basis and to what extent?



  1. I’ll give an example of where this can be mis used-

    Creationists and conservative wings of Christianity like Evangelicals (yes, that’s right… the Dawkins effect 😉 ) argue that the notion of God is the only thing which creates morality in our society. Assuming that Charles Darwin is right (which as a matter of fact he is) about not requiring a God for explaining life, can we afford let the falsehood of a monotheistic sky god’s existence prevail just for the sake of morality???

    then again, the very argument that morality is the result of religion is proving to be farce as most of the conflicts in the world have roots in religion.

  2. Is that the Dawkins hangover? You seem to be seeing everything through Dawkin’s eyes.

  3. the first half of my comment, i agree is dawkins hang over… but the second para? thats moreof “lage raho ” effect 😀

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