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The Philosophy of Deception$
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Clancy Martin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327939

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327939.001.0001

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The Truth about Kant on Lies

The Truth about Kant on Lies

(p.201) 11 The Truth about Kant on Lies
The Philosophy of Deception

James Edwin Mahon

Oxford University Press

This chapter points out that the hysteria of philosophers over Kant's notorious claim that when people lie, they are always acting immorally, whatever the circumstances may be, is not really warranted, given that there are three senses of a lie to be found in Kant's moral philosophy — the ethical, the juristic, and the sense of right — and three corresponding duties not to lie. There are many cases in which Kant would not take the statement or deceptive action under consideration to be a lie. Juristic lies are a narrower category than ethical lies. The chapter convinces the reader that Kant's prohibition on lying is not nearly so outrageous, sweeping, and difficult to defend as it has almost always been taken to be.

Keywords:   Kant, lying, lies, moral philosophy, juristic lies, ethical lies, sense of right

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