The Categorical Imperative By Christine Korsgaard

1232 Words 5 Pages
Small Lies Can Save Lives Christine Korsgaard, a prominent moral philosopher, is well known for her refutation of Immanuel Kant’s idea of The Categorical Imperative, in which he states that the truth must be presented at all times. Her writing focuses on the moral implications that arise when a person interacts with individuals that possess an evil nature. The purpose of this paper is to address the concept of Korsgaard’s Murderer at the Door scenario, as well as argue that there are other reasons besides this specific scenario, to lie to another human being. The other reasons that will be discussed include the idea of self-preservation, to omit pain and suffering in a consequentialist manner, as well as in the event of war. Kantian ethics …show more content…
However, in certain scenarios, such as in the event of war, it would be imperative to commit the act of false truths. Korsgaard summarizes that deceit is acceptable if one is being deceived, in which it is perfectly acceptable to lie to individuals who are deceitful, since he or she has already violated the foundation of trust that society is built upon. The motto of most soldiers is to protect the country that they serve and defeat the enemy. Some of the most common methods of winning a war involve tactics such as deception and diversion, which are both considered forms of deceit. Both parties are aware that the other are going to utilize these tactics in order to successfully win the war. For example, if soldiers were captured by the opposing side for questioning, it would be in the best interest of the soldiers to lie to the captors, so that the lives of other soldiers can be spared. It would be in the best interest of national security to lie to the enemy, so that the lives of others can be spared. In terms of Korsgaard, since both war parties are deceiving each other, it is perfectly acceptable for the soldiers to lie to each …show more content…
Kant states that all individuals deserve the truth, since it is a fundamental foundation for society, and is vital in preserving autonomy. However, Korsgaard states that the act of lying is permissible in the case of the Murderer at the Door scenario, where the murderer inquires as to whether a specific person is residing in the house. In this case, it is permissible to lie to the murderer since the trust has already been breached by the murderer, since his identity has not been divulged. In addition to the murderer at the door scenario, it is also acceptable to lie in the case of preservation of life or self- preservation. Also, in terms of consequentialists, if the truth would create more harm than the lie, it would be advisable to lie, to avoid certain scenarios such as pain or suffering. Lastly, another example where lying should be deemed permissible is in terms of war. In this case, both sides are enacting methods of deceit, and thus should be able to lie to maintain and protect national security. All in all, Kantian ethics in regards to truth has a few issues, especially in terms of the various evils that arise in society, as addressed by

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