The Morality of Lying in Contrast to the Philosophies of Kant Essay

The Morality of Lying in Contrast to the Philosophies of Kant Essay

Length: 2310 words (6.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Research Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

The young girl gazes at you helplessly from within the tangled wreckage. You witnessed the crash – a massive truck careened into a minivan as it passed on the highway, killing the driver on impact, and virtually tearing the girl in half. Now she hangs from the car, held together by the seatbelt. Her nervous system critically damaged, she can’t feel much pain, but she knows that her situation is not optimal, to say the least. She is six years old – she probably doesn’t understand the concept of death. As you stare equally helplessly into her fear stricken eyes, the only words that you can muster are: “Don’t worry, everything will be okay.”
This is obviously a lie – there is absolutely no chance that the dying girl will indeed survive and have no cause for worry – but this lie contains ideas to sooth her fear, allowing a comparatively peaceful passage out of this life. Surely few would argue that the little girl did not deserve to be comforted, as the alternative seems somewhat heartless – “Why should I help you? You’re not worth my time, you’ll be dead in a minute.” Indeed, telling the truth, in this case, appears even less moral than the lie. There is, however, at least one who would disagree with this scenario: a certain Immanuel Kant, whose philosophy insists that lying is wrong in every circumstance. But despite Kant’s fervent belief, it is not hard to see how lying can be a beneficial, mutually advantageous, and in fact moral act that still consistently complies with Kant’s own moral imperatives.
Because Kant’s philosophy does not specifically define what a “lie” is, we are led to believe that speaking an untruth, no matter what the context, is strictly immoral. But speaking untruth does not necessitate the negative conno...

... middle of paper ...

...lf to a degree, allowing room for leniency. Lies can be perfectly acceptable, selfless, and moral in the face of a greater evil, or when no harm is being done on any side.


Gass, R. H., & Seiter, J. S. (1999). Persuasion, Social Influence, and Compliance Gaining. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Henningsen, D. D., Cruz, M. G., & Morr, M. C. (2000). “Pattern Violations and Perception of Deception.” Communication Reports. Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 1-9.

Kant, Immanuel. "The Foundations of Ethics." Moral Philosophy: a Reader. Ed. Louis P. Pojman. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Company, 1993. 194-213.

Pruss, Alexander R. "Lying, Deception and Kant." Alexander R. Pruss Ethics Blog. 30 Aug. 2001. Baylor U. 8 Mar. 2008 .

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Role of Happiness in Ethical Decisions Essay

- “All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason” (Kant 1). The usage of reason as a representation of one’s intellect is a common trait in the 21st century. Happiness, a positive emotion, tends to blur one’s judgement and coerces philosophers to look upon its relevance when formulating ethical decisions. When considering the role of emotion in ethical decisions, one must consider the contrasting views of Immanuel Kant, an 18th Prussian philosopher that focussed his philosophies around the doctrine of reason, in comparison to that of John Stewart Mill, a 19th century British philosopher that followed the...   [tags: Immanuel Kant]

Research Papers
1221 words (3.5 pages)

Kant's Views on Morality Essay

- Morality has been a subject of many philosophical discussions that has prompted varied responses from different philosophers. One of the most famous approaches to morality is that of Immanuel Kant in his writing Groundwork of Metaphysics of Morals. Kant in this work argues that the reason for doing a particular action or the drive to do good things is a fundamental basis of defining moral quality in a person. To him, an action could be considered morally right only if the motivation behind doing that action was out of ‘goodwill’....   [tags: phylosophy analysis]

Research Papers
961 words (2.7 pages)

The Construction of Morality: Philosophers Essay

- Many political philosophers use the theme of morality to introduce their theories of civilization. Human morals are intertwined with the political system and are presented in human nature. By definition, morality is the distinction between right and wrong. Thus, philosophers use the concept of morality in the same distinction, but understand and apply them in different context depending on their theories. The interpretations vary between political thinkers.; One particular pair of theorists believe morals are presented in the lives of humans, but created in a different manner....   [tags: Jacques Rousseau, morality, thinkers]

Research Papers
979 words (2.8 pages)

Immanuel Kant Essay

- He was the fourth of nine children of Johann Georg and Anna Regina Kant, German philosopher Immanuel Kant was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia in 1724. Son of a humble saddler, his family belonged to a Protestant religious group of Pietists ,religion was a very improtant part in every aspect of their lives. Even though Kant was critical of formal religion, he still admired the conduct of Pietists. Kant’s went to elementary school at Saint George’s Hospital School and then went to the Collegium Fredericianum, a Pietist school, where he studied from 1732 until 1740....   [tags: Immanuel Kant]

Research Papers
711 words (2 pages)

Moral Law According To Kant Essay

- Moral Law According To Kant      Immanuel Kant was a deontologist from Germany in the eithteenth century. He believed that the only test of whether a decision is right or wrong is whether it could be applied to everyone. Would it be all right for everyone to do what you are doing. If not, your decision is wrong. It would be wrong, for example, to make a promise with the intention of breaking it because if everyone did that, no one would believe anyone's promises. In ethics, Kant tried to show that doing one's duty consisted in following only those principles that one would accept as applying equally to all....   [tags: Morality Ethics Kant Philosophy Essays]

Research Papers
554 words (1.6 pages)

Kant and the Morality of Anger Essay example

- Kant and the Morality of Anger Introduction This essay does not comprise a defence of retributive punishment, neither does it imply a rejection of deterrent punishment. The writer suggests that one possible reason for the tendency to advocate punishment of offenders with ever increasing severity can be discovered in the concept of the 'morality of anger'. It is this explanation of the phenomenon that forms the principal burden of the arguments used in this essay. The salient characteristics of the two theories of punishment, which find expression in English law, will be found below [1]....   [tags: Philosophy Papers]

Research Papers
4103 words (11.7 pages)

Immanuel Kant's Theory Essay

- Immanuel Kant's Theory Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) discussed many ethical systems and reasoning’s some were based on a belief that the reason is the final authority for morality. In Kant’s eyes, reason is directly correlated with morals and ideals. Actions of any sort, he believed, must be undertaken from a sense of duty dictated by reason, and no action performed for appropriateness or solely in obedience to law or custom can be regarded as moral. A moral act is an act done for the "right" reasons....   [tags: Papers Immanuel Kant Morality]

Research Papers
761 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Hume vs. Kant

- Many different philosophers have their own way of looking at not only the world, but society as a whole. This is clearly seen with the two philosopher’s Kant and Hume. Though totally different styles of philosophizing and looking at an ethical theory, it is not to say that one’s theory is better or more justified than the other. It is perhaps a different point of view or another opinion to take in. We must not directly rule out either Hume or Kant because both of their ethical theories have been approved by numerous philosophers and scholars alike....   [tags: Hume Kant Compare Contrast Philosophy Essays]

Research Papers
1110 words (3.2 pages)

Kant and Deontological Theory Essay

- Kant and Deontological Theory Immanuel Kant was a moral philosopher. His theory, better known as deontological theory, holds that intent, reason, rationality, and good will are motivating factors in the ethical decision making process. The purpose of this paper is to describe and explain major elements of his theory, its essential points, how it is used in the decision making process, and how it intersects with the teams values. While Kant’s theory may seem “overly optimistic” (Johnson, 2008) now, it was ruled as acceptable and rational behavior then....   [tags: Philosophy Kant]

Research Papers
1240 words (3.5 pages)

Kant and Morality Essay

- Kant had a different ethical system which was based on reason. According to Kant reason was the fundamental authority in determining morality. All humans possess the ability to reason, and out of this ability comes two basic commands: the hypothetical imperative and the categorical imperative. In focusing on the categorical imperative, in this essay I will reveal the underlying relationship between reason and duty. The categorical imperative suggests that a course of action must be followed because of its rightness and necessity....   [tags: the categorical imperative]

Research Papers
580 words (1.7 pages)