Both in the blog post “The Straight Path” and in On Lying, I found one topic missing that can make a fascinating addition to this discussion, that of passing. The experience of African-Americans passing for Caucasian, Gays passing for straight, Jews passing for gentile etc., all speak to similar needs and consequences from social death to actual physical death, depending on the time and place. Unlike many of the thought experiments in “The Straight Path” involving death that “shrink the time horizon” to days, weeks, or months, passing expands the time horizon over years and lifetimes. The ethics of passing may also exist on a continuum from pathological to prudential. I wonder how we might identify the harms and benefits and evaluate the differences - both in terms of the passer and the people deceived.
I think it is ethical to ‘lie’ if your actual survival and existence is at stake, especially when you are lying to unethical, immoral human obstacles. Your moral, ethical standard must by your own physical life, not an abstract unless you believe in the afterlife. If ethics are rooted in reality, than you’re not considering ‘brownie points’ with a god and worrying about buring in hell or partying in heaven. You must sometimes harm people who are oppressive and threatening to your very existence.