Secrets/Revelations essay

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The purpose of this assignment is two-fold:
1. To help you understand the relationship between secrecy, lying and confidentiality.
2. To enable you to expand your ability to detect when lies are covering secrets.
Through the lecture on secrecy and revelation and accompanying readings, we have seen how
secrecy, confidentiality and lying interrelate. Each of these serves the others and seldom does
one stand alone in our handling or understanding of information. We know that secrecy
protects lies, that lies protect secrecy and that lies and secrecy protect the prima facia duties
under confidentiality agreements.
All of these linkages bring into question how we receive and send information and, more
important, how we interpret information from sources that are unknown or that come from
distant parts of the world. The integrity of information often is compromised in each exchange,
with less and less credibility associated with its factual representations.
During the next few days, think about a situation in your life in which you felt compelled to lie
to keep a secret or protect a person to whom you promised confidentiality. This might be a
situation in school, in a relationship, in a family environment – or, perhaps, at work. Review the
variables and characteristics covered in the lecture and readings and apply them to this case.
Analyze that past situation that shows your understanding of the important intersections of
secrecy, lying and confidentiality.
The essay should be analytical, not descriptive. Don’t summarize what happened, analyze the
events by relating them to theme of this unit: secrets and lies. The details should support your
analysis and answer these questions:
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• Did you feel a sense of loyalty, guilt or anxiety while keeping the secret?
• Were you angry or feeling guilty at having to lie or otherwise act contrary to your moral
code to protect the secret?
• If the experience empowered you, the other person, or both of you, how did it change
the relationship?
• If others tried to penetrate the secret, what was your response? Do you think the
person trying to penetrate the secret had a desire to know, gain control, feel superior,
or be intimate?
When writing, incorporate these elements from the lecture and readings as they relate to your
• A secret does not require a lie.
• People keep a secret from others to protect their personal space, name, thoughts, and
all aspects of their identity
• People keep a confidentiality out of a prima facie duty and to show loyalty to a peer
such as a close friend or relative
• Duties to others such as parents or close friends may compete with a duty to keep a
• Keeping a confidentiality can put a tremendous burden on a person
• A secret can hurt people whether intended or not
• Secrets have inherent dangers
• Penetrating secrets can empower people by giving them leverage over those keeping
the secrets
Remember, we are asking you to blog your analysis. We are NOT asking you to breach any
current confidences or to put into jeopardy sensitive personal information. Please be certain
that your story is one that no longer requires secrecy or lies to sustain it.

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