Is it any less (or more) morally objectionable to lie about your sick cat to get out of a social obligation than it is to lie about your sick grandmother?


  1. badgersdaughter says

    Neither. Your choice of lie is entirely dependent on what you think the person you are obligated to will best identify with. Either way, you have lied and been manipulative; it’s doesn’t really matter that much how unless there are other effects of the lie you have not stated (for example, the individual later euthanizes their cat because it has been in contact with yours, or makes a fool out of themselves asking about your “sick” grandmother at another social gathering).

  2. says

    That is fascinating that you consider this sort of lie as “manipulative”. I definitely see what you’re saying, as you are trying to manipulate the person you owe the social obligation to into thinking less poorly of you than they would if you told the truth: I’d rather sit at home, drink, and jacke offe than attend your cocktail party. But I have always assumed that–like I do–no one really cares or gives credence to the specifics of social obligation avoidance excuses in the first place.

  3. badgersdaughter says

    Well, giving an “acceptable”, but untruthful, excuse means that you wish the other person to behave in certain ways (invite you again, include you in other things, speak well of you to other people, maybe even prefer you for a job promotion or some other perk) that they wouldn’t if you told the “unacceptable” truth (maybe they’d be offended and cut contact with you, speak badly of you to others, feel negatively about you the next time they considered people for a perk, and so forth). It’s all about creating positive and beneficial feelings that could benefit the speaker rather than negative and hurtful feelings that could come back and bite them in, well, a sensitive spot. :)

  4. Trebuchet says

    Only if the sick cat (or grandmother) refused to use an ass gasket and instead left drops of pee all over the seat.

  5. Trebuchet says

    Is it any less (or more) morally objectionable to lie about your sick cat to get out of a social obligation than it is to lie about your sick grandmother?

    Attempt at a serious answer:
    Somehow I’d feel that the grandmother lie is worse. I’m not sure why, I suppose it’s that you’re making something up about another person, and attempting to generate a higher degree of sympathy in the “victim” than with the cat. (That of course depends on the person, some animal lovers would be more concerned about the cat.)

    I’m not sure why CPP is surprised that this would be seen as “manuipulative”. That’s how I’d see it as well. You’re trying to deceive someone to achieve your ends.

    I would probably exagerate my own, or my wife’s, health problems rather than blame it on another person or animal. Is that better? Worse? I dunno.

  6. Raucous Indignation says

    I’m sorry. I’m too distracted by the sweet potato that looks like a vagina in the side bar advertisement to give this any serious thought.

  7. lost academic says

    Wow, these were not the responses I expected – and I mostly came here because my cat was just diagnosed with a brain tumor, causing his 2+ month long infection and abscesses. It might be technically true to call it manipulative, but I think that’s a loaded word. I think when we generally tell lies as excuses we are looking to avoid hurting someone in such a social situation. What’s more is that these excuses generally seem pretty transparent and serve as a shield between revealing complex or potentially poorly understood feelings towards the requirement. I tend to see such excuses and what are often termed white lies as being protective of others, not primarily self serving.

  8. Raucous Indignation says

    Try using that as your next lame fuckin’ ass, curmudgeonly excuse next time.

  9. =8)-DX says

    I had no idea this was morally objectionable.
    1) Either you can reject the social obligation (“I’m not coming” should be valid in any case).
    2) Or you’re being pressured or coerced into the social obligation, in which case making up an excuse to reject it is morally unobjectionable.
    3) Or you have a moral commitment which means that the social obligation is also a moral obligation, in which case it is irrelevant what excuse you make up, either is just as morally objectionable, because you are breaking the commitment.

    If I try hard I can just about imagine some moral relevance concerning the cat and grandma – grandma might later hear that you are using her as a scapegoat, and the cat doesn’t give a damn. On the other hand, *not* actually caring for your cat is very bad – a cat (unlike a grandma) can’t feed itself.

  10. Alverant says

    Depends on if you have a cat and if your grandmother’s alive and how you feel about the person who wants you to come to the social engagement. If you have a cat and your grandmother passed away years ago, then it’s better to tell the more believable white lie. It’s more objectionable to tell a white lie that is obviously a white lie.

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