Phil Essay Extra Credit

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On a Supposed Right to Lie because of Philanthropic concerns

Kant’s essay “On a Supposed Right to Lie….” was a response to a significant criticism which was raised for his views about telling truth as an unconditional duty. Kant believes that every action must be done in accordance with duty, and being truthful is also a form of duty. He believes that deviating from the principle of duty can not only be disadvantageous, but can also lead to undesirable consequences. With Kant’s believes of unconditional truthfulness, philosophers raised criticisms and their main argument being “To tell the truth is thus a duty, but is a duty only regards to one who has the right to truth. But no one has a right to a truth that harms others” (64). Here other philosophers raise concerns against Kant’s views believing that even though it is one’s duty to tell the truth, a person should not be bound to tell the truth to a person who does not deserve the right to the truth and his agenda is only harm to others. Therefore, keeping that person from truth (because he is a harm to others), should not be a crime. In response to these arguments, Kant holds on to his beliefs of truthfulness as an absolute duty. In the beginning of the essay, Kant points out that the expression “to have a right to truth” and calls it “meaningless”. And he says that “to have an objective right to truth, would be the same as to say that it is a matter of one’s will” (64). Here Kant argues that truth cannot be considered as a possession that can be granted to one person and refused to another; it is a right which should be equally granted to all. Truthfulness is also an unconditional duty, which means that a distinction cannot be made between persons of who shall be treated truthfully and who shall be excused from it. Moreover, because of the categorical duty, a person does not get the warrant to be untruthful, even in order to prevent misdeeds against him or others. Other philosophers also make an argument that by being untruthful to the person who intends to harm others; one does not do any wrong to duty in general and no wrong to that person. Kant considers these statements far from being true, he explains that a lie always harms someone or something. If it is not harming a human being, a lie makes all rights based on contract void and contracts lose their force which is wrong to humanity and mankind in general. Kant writes that a well-intentioned lie can be punishable, and the person is commendable as wrong even if it was because of some greater good (65). Kant says this because he believes that the duty to be truthful should be regarded as basis of all duties, and any exception to that should be illegal and the person is punishable to any consequences arising because of his lie. However, if a person continues to speak the truth even after terrible consequences he cannot be blamed or punished for his actions. Kant also brings out two possibilities first if a person told a lie to the murderer that the intended victim is not in the house, but the victim (in order to escape the murderer) has actually left the house, and because of the lie, the murderer and the victim end up meeting. Second, if the person had told the truth and the victim has the time to get out of the house, he may actually save the victim’s life, because the murderer is looking in the house (65). Therefore, Kant concludes by saying that regardless of the person’s good intentions and the unforeseen consequences he is obligated to speak the truth. But, if he still chooses to be untruthful, he must answer to the consequences that arise from his lie and should be penalized for them. Further continuing his discussion Kant brings out the point “For every man has not only the right but even in the strictest duty to be truthful in statements…