A noble lie is a falsehood that is excellent in its kind or seen as morally permissible. The assertion is that such deceptions will help preserve justice and protect public interests (Rowett, “Why the Philosopher Kings”). A real-world example of a noble lie is when parents lie to their children that babies are bought in a supermarket, to avoid describing how babies are conceived because the mental image may be disturbing.
It ties into Socrates’ belief that it is acceptable to deceive people if the objective is to avoid social unrest. Another historical example was the noble lie perpetrated by Roosevelt during World War Two to the American people by saying that Stalin was a good leader to justify working with him to defeat Hitler, although history has proven this was a lie. I agree with Socrates’ argument that noble lies are necessary for preserving justice especially when the aim is to bring harmony, avoid the compromise of national security, and regulate beliefs.
I agree a noble lie is necessary for preserving justice because it brings about harmony in a society or nation. A noble lie functions to help an individual to face truth where, oftentimes the structure of the lie is more important than the contents of the lie (Rowett p. 72). Whenever a lie achieves what it was intended to do, which is creating harmony to preserve justice through social order, then it is worth the effort. Most of the noble lies need to sound truthful for them to be useful. A lie told at the level of preserving justice is thought to involve every citizen, whereby it brings out an understanding that everybody is equal and deserves the best (Salazar). People are expected to have a responsibility for one another in a political and social sense. It should, therefore, be seen that what is important is not the lie but whether the lie brings cohesion in society. Socrates argued that a society should be exposed to information that encourages fairness and equality instead of fostering prejudice.
I also agree that a noble lie is necessary in preserving justice because it can prevent the compromise of national security. Certain national issues are sensitive in nature and could lead to panic or anxiety amongst citizens if information given out is managed poorly. In such cases, political leaders should ensure that they use proper language or even resort to noble lies when addressing such concerns, for the sake of cohesion. Most governments hide classified information which can be accessed by only a few designated people within the leadership hierarchy, through means of noble lies for the good of the State. According to Kirk (2016), the national policy requires a doctrine to direct its actions since there is no certainty in political deliberations and as such, an approximation of truth or noble lie could work well in this context.
Finally, I agree that a noble lie is necessary in preserving justice since it helps in regulating beliefs. “So will we strike a false note in calling them lovers of opinion rather than lovers of wisdom… no… that is if they are persuaded by me” (Bloom, 161). In this case, the argument is that some people value opinions, which can be skewed to favor an agenda. For example, children usually abide by a parent’s perspective on general matters. As a result, a father will be able to convince their son to pursue a sport or a career in the same way Tiger Woods became a golfer due to his father’s influence. An adult might use a noble lie to persuade a youngster to follow a certain path.
The importance of a noble lie may preserve the general well-being of a population. Therefore, philosophy proves that dishonesty could help protect and develop society.
Bloom, Allan. The Republic of Plato. Harper Collins Publisher, 1968.
Kirk, R. The Truth about Plato’s “Noble Lie. 2016 [Online] Available at: https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/11/platos-noble-lie-christopher-morrissey.html [Accessed on 09 April, 2019]
Rowett, Catherine. “Why the philosopher kings will believe the noble lie.” Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 50 (2016): 67-100.
Rowett, Catherine. “Why the Philosopher Kings will believe the Noble Lie.” University of Michigan, 2016, http://ancphil.lsa.umich.edu/-/downloads/osap/50-Rowett.pdf. Accessed 3 April 2019.
Salazar, Maria V. “The Noble Lie and the Poetic Function of Philosophy.” https://www.academia.edu/23707917/The_Noble_Lie_and_the_Poetic_Function_of_Philosophy