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date: 27 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The author presents the arguments of Augustine and Kant for thinking that lying is always wrong no matter what. Act-utilitarianism holds that lying is morally right whenever the consequences of lying are better than (or as good as) those of not lying. Ross rejects absolutism, but says that utilitarianism is too permissive about lying. He holds that there is a duty not to lie, other things being equal. Absolutism about lying is wildly counterintuitive (it implies that the duty not to lie always outweighs any conflicting duties) and the arguments given by Augustine and Kant do not give us adequate reasons to accept absolutism about lying. Act-utilitarianism and Ross’s theory are much more promising theories about the morality of lying. Augustine, Kant, and Ross all hold that lying is morally worse than deception without lying. Utilitarians deny that there is any morally relevant difference between lying and deception.

Keywords: Augustine, Kant, Mill, Ross, Moore, Sidgwick, utilitarianism, Rule Consequentialism, lying vs. deception

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