Is Obligatory to Say and Believe False Things About Someone Because They Want You To?
I'm trying to think of a case in which the questions are at all difficult to answer...
Perhaps: if a terrible crime was committed against Smith (e.g. he was tortured horribly)?
Of course we're not talking about simple requests that you not raise the subject, not tell anyone else about it, never mention it... Those are all reasonable requests, I think. Nor are we talking about the request that you act as if it never happened, treat Smith as you would anyone else, etc.
Rather, the question is something like: can Smith demand that you say--and even believe--that he was, for example, in Paris on vacation at the time when the crime occurred in, say, Iraq?
But that's a specific, not-very-good thought experiment to try to get at the general questions. Which, again, are:
(1) Are we ever obligated to say false things about people because they want us to?
(2) Are we ever obligated to believe false things about people because they want us to?
(And, of course, if the answer to (1) is in the affirmative, but the answer to (2) is in the negative--which seems like a real possibility--then other problems will obviously arise...)
But perhaps the questions are really:
(1') Are we ever obligated to say false things about people because it is very important to them that we do?
(2) Are we ever obligated to believe false things about people because it is very important to them that we do?
I mean, everybody this side of really strict, literalistic Kantians probably thinks that it's ok to lie sometimes in order to save people great pain... So that might give us a start here...
So maybe at least (1)/(1') are harder than I initially thought...