Lies, Harm, And Practical Interests

Abstract

This paper outlines an account of the ethics of lying, which accommodates two main ideas about lying. The first of these, Anti-Deceptionalism, is the view that lying does not necessarily involve intentions to deceive. The second, Anti-Absolutism, is the view that lying is not always morally wrong. It is argued that lying is not wrong in itself, but rather the wrong in lying is explained by different factors in different cases. In some cases such factors may include deceptive intentions on the part of the liar. In other cases, where such intentions are not found, the wrong in lying may be explained by other factors. Moreover, it is argued that the interaction between considerations against lying and considerations against telling the truth are sensitive to the practical interests of those lied to. When the topic of the lie in question matters little to the victim's rational decision making, the threshold for when considerations against telling the truth can outweigh considerations against lying are lowered. This account is seen to explain why lying to avoid little harm is sometimes permissible, and sometimes not.

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Andreas Stokke
Uppsala University

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):180-187.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2006 - Critica 38 (114):98-107.
On Bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton University Press.
The Right and the Good.Some Problems in Ethics.W. D. Ross & H. W. B. Joseph - 1933 - Journal of Philosophy 30 (19):517-527.

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Citations of this work

Assertion, Lying, and Untruthfully Implicating.Jessica Pepp - 2019 - In Sanford C. Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford University Press.
Immoral Lies and Partial Beliefs.Neri Marsili - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (1):117-127.
The Epistemology of Testimonal Trust.Jesper Kallestrup - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):150-174.

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