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PHL217H1 (47)


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Sol Goldberg

PHL2174Kant on Lying and Harming HumanityTruth as public reasons goal and as societys precondition Williams concern with intellectual pursuits The concern for truthfulness as a virtue was part of his concern for preserving these intellectual pursuits Last time we talked about Kants what is enlightenments pursuit of truth and if it is justifiable if claims of truth are justifiable in certain conditions Today we are not concerned with public truths as a goal The question today pertains to a kind of truth that is a precondition of society Theres a basic distinction between the two types of truths The key passage that should be noted is on page 612 of the reading Truthfulness in statements that one cannot avoid is aand although I indeed do no wrong to himI nevertheless do wrong in general by such falsification Kants ethics are often dismissed as being fundamentally flawed The feelings that Kant couldnt be right about this because murder is worst than a lie No quick dismissal of Kant as a defender of wouldbe murderersKants original example which is misstated is about a servant by lying to the police helps his master escape So in Kants actual scenario it is clear that is a master slave relationship and that the deception in the crime is much more complicated The legal system is a system by which all laws and order in the society is protected You cannot make a maxim that everyone should follow What is at stake Kants disagreement with ConstantConstant thinks that deception is relative that certain lies can be made for a greater good and Kant concedes that no rights are infringed or violated by lying for another murderer or thief Kant uses lying in a very narrow sense Lying is not simply being untruthful in the general sense Here is the real stake of the issue that its not what to do in a particular case but whether Constant is right the conditional duty to truth For Constant society is impossible if we forbid lying and for Kant society is impossible if we do not forbid lying What is a lieAA statement must be madeBThe statement is believed to be false by the speakerCThe untruthful statement is intended to be believed by the listener
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