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Eidos

Print version ISSN 1692-8857
On-line version ISSN 2011-7477

Abstract

WOOD, Allen W.. Kant and the right to lie reviewed essay: On a supposed right to lie from philanthropy, by Inmanuel Kant (1797). Eidos [online]. 2011, n.15, pp.96-117. ISSN 1692-8857.

Kant's strict views on lying have been regularly cited as a reason for thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with Kantian ethics. Some of Kant's statements here seem so excessive that most Kantians who have dealt with the topic have tried to distance themselves from them, usually claiming that they do not (or need not) follow from Kant's own principles. In this chapter, I will do a little of that, partly by questioning whether the famous example of the "murderer at the door" really fits the principles Kant applies to it. By and large, however, I will argue Kant's views about veracity are reasonable or at least defensible, if not self-evident. This is mainly because I also think some of them -especially his position in the brief, late and famous (or notorious) essay On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy (1797)- have been badly misunderstood. My principal aim here will be to correct that misunderstanding.

Keywords : Kantian ethics; right to lie; philanthropy; Kant; truthfulness.

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