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Speech MattersOn Lying, Morality, and the Law$
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Seana Valentine Shiffrin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157023

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157023.001.0001

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Lies and the Murderer Next Door

Lies and the Murderer Next Door

(p.5) Chapter One Lies and the Murderer Next Door
Speech Matters

Seana Valentine Shiffrin

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers some issues about our individual duties of sincerity and promissory fidelity, with particular emphasis on the role the stricture on lying plays in maintaining reliable channels of communication between moral agents. It defends a qualified absolutism about lying that distinguishes the wrong of the lie from the wrong involved in deception (when it is wrong). In particular, it examines Immanuel Kant's absolutism about lying, building upon the themes Kant adduces in the opening passage of the selection from the Lectures on Ethics. It also explores the problem of the Murderer at the Door and connects it to other issues about our moral relations with wrongdoers and the process of their moral evolution. Finally, it looks at the active, affimative misrepresentation that one is telling the truth rather than operating in a suspended context and relates it to the basic conditions of interpersonal moral agency.

Keywords:   sincerity, fidelity, lying, communication, qualified absolutism, deception, Immanuel Kant, Murderer at the Door, truth, moral agency

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