Essay on Kant 's Philosophy On Lying

Essay on Kant 's Philosophy On Lying

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Immanuel Kant is a firm believer in the ideology that morality is solely based on duty and reason alone. This simply way of thinking is known as a deontological moral theory, which states that “the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our [mankind’s] duty” (“Kantian Ethics”). Based on his theory and throughout a significant number of his writings, Kant argues that it is not okay to lie. If Kant’s theory is correct, then no one could ever lie, not even to protect a friend from serious harm. However, it is obvious that the practical function of morality would allow an individual to lie in order to protect someone’s life from malevolent encounters. Thus, Kant’s ideology is false in claiming that it is universally immoral to lie. Throughout this paper I will disclose Kant’s philosophy on lying through explanation of his moral theory, reveal underlying problems with the categorical imperative, provide reasons as to why the categorical imperative cannot be applied universally, and support why a lie is morally permissible when its intent is to avert evil circumstances.
Throughout his book Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant makes claim that moral laws are based on pure, or a priori, duty and rational reasoning alone. By claiming that laws are a priori, Kant suggests that morality must be derived without any reference to empirical judgments (Jankowiak). Additionally, Kant states that all moral laws must be applied universally. In order to determine if actions are morally acceptable and universally applicable, Kant formulates the categorical imperative, which consists of two forms. His first formulation, which is commonly referred to as the Formula of Universal La...


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...rinciple by a German philosopher [Kant], who goes so far as to affirm that to tell a falsehood to a murderer who ask[s] us whether our friend, of whom he was in pursuit, had not taken refuge in our house, would be a crime (qtd in Close).
In his reply, Kant states that one’s moral duty would in fact be to tell the truth to the murderer (Close). However, the practical function of morality would contend that it would be okay for an individual to lie to a murderer to save a friend. Based on this notion, it becomes apparent that Kant’s categorical imperative cannot be applied universally and with absolute necessity because there are circumstances in which it is permissible to fabricate the truth. Kant’s moral philosophy is rather straightforward, so it is difficult to apply his theories to the complexity of everyday interactions, especially in the face of heinous motives.

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