<Like many others, I have long held that hypocrisy leads to self-dealing and deception–quite negative consequences, generally. I will stubbornly continue in that belief, regardless of what you may read or infer from what you read next. Thus: hypocrisy may be bad, but I won’t hold it against you if you are a leader. Feel free to move about the country while calling for carbon-caps. Or to denounce out-of-wedlock-gaysex-liberalism-gambling-homophobia-racism-whatever while fornicating-fornicating-bein’ all liberal-betting-lying to yourself-hatin’-whatever.
My reasoning is as follows: effective advocacy can produce so much greater a reduction in whatever harm you intend to combat that it doesn’t matter at all whether or not you even actually believe your claims–much less whether or not you live up to whatever high bar you erect. This consequentialist argument seems to rely on the premise that virtue is not its own reward. A hairy topic is raised.</p>
<p>Few would deny that some sacrifices are noble: the fireman injured in efforts to rescue the infant, the woman donating a life-saving kidney to a stranger, etc. But are the acts more noble because of their sacrifice or because of the result? Are life-saving (or otherwise hugely beneficial) acts less positive if they are prompted by selfish reasons (the baby is covered in gold, the stranger is a wealthy pushover)? After all, the facts remain: the baby survives, the recipient’s life is extended. Suppose we are aware of those mitigating circumstances, but our angels are not. Would it then be less wonderful that these others were rescued? Certainly not: the rescuees are safe, the rescuers may benefit–both are positives. Suppose we are unsure what our would-be rescuers know. Are the benefits to the rescued any less? Is the power of our rescuer’s example mightily diminished?
I’m slowly building to something along the lines of “lying is okay if good outcomes result.” I’m not sure I can get there, but not because I do or do not believe it.