Honesty & Lies
FYS 005, CRN 6959
This seminar will explore the sociocultural role of dishonesty, examining the concept through various lenses: literary, philosophical, political, journalistic, academic, and psychological. We will read and discuss theories about lying—why people lie, and the effects of dishonest behavior on the liar and the listener/reader. In particular, we will analyze the prevalence of dishonesty in contemporary American society. Why do so many politicians lie, and how do they justify their behavior? Why do memoirists lie about their lives, and does it matter when they do so? Why do journalists plagiarize? Why do students misrepresent themselves on Facebook? The writer Ralph Keyes alleges that we live in a “post-truth era,” which he describes as an “ethical twilight zone. It allows us to dissemble without considering ourselves dishonest.” We will decide whether or not we agree with his assessment, and talk about the possible impact of post-truth culture.