Sissela Bok on the analogy of deception and violence

Journal of Value Inquiry 19 (3):217-224 (1985)
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Bok defines lying in the same way as Augustine and Kant. But she wants to oppose their position that one cannot lie to save an innocent life. This position was successfully and consistently opposed by Constant and Grotius who did so by redefining lying so that the untruth one tells to save an innocent life does not count as a lie since it does not violate a right. Bok refuses to use this way. She instead uses her analogy of deception and violence. But this analogy is not, as she believes it is, intuitively clear or a good a fortiori argument. Still, if one pays attention to the ordinary sense of the words Bok uses in her confused analogy, deception and lying, force and violence, one realizes that Bok's analogy has some persuasive power, not because violence and lying are right means to save a life, but because force and deception, or force or deception are. And to see why this is so requires that Constant and Grotius's way of opposing Kant, and their definition of lying, must be adopted. Bok's apparent success with her analogy of force and lying is due to the fact that it is a shadow of the more genuine success of the analogy of force and violence and deception and lying which requires Constant and Grotius's definition of deception and lying. Thus her way of opposing Augustine and Kant is weak in trying to do it in a new approach and demonstrates the advantages of Constant and Grotius's approach

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Citations of this work

The Definition of Lying and Deception.James Edwin Mahon - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Lying, liars and language.David Simpson - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (3):623-639.

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