Truth in perjury

Joanne C. Lau
Virginia Tech
of (from British Columbia Philosophy Graduate Conference) In moral reasoning, we sometimes encounter situations where what our ethical principles tell us to do and what we actually do conflict. In legal ethics, such anomalies arise for lawyers in defending a client who commits perjury. Wallace argues that such lawyers have not mastered the practice of truth-telling, and thus suffer from some sort of moral deficiency. However, due to the complexities of legal practice, particularly the value of truth and evidence, lawyers must learn to accommodate cases of perjury into their moral taxonomies, and this is not a simple feat. In addition, I examine the ethics of lying in everyday life, such as in cases of protecting reputation or feelings. As such, I posit that Wallace is oversimplifying the situation and individuals in “perjured client” cases actually have a better and more realistic grasp on the exercise of practical ethics than he claims.
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