“This is because the formal duty of being truthful is something that is owed by an individual to everyone[3]. By making a false statement we commit a wrong against our general duty to be truthful[4]. If we could be alleviated from this obligation, all of our contractual rights would be void and there would be no security in relations between humans.”

janetthomas

This essay will attempt to explain why the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), thought that it is wrong to lie even to an enquiring murderer. To do this the essay will explain Kant’s theory of a Categorical Imperative which is a source of all universalized moral laws and how he applied it to the challenge of his theory by the Swiss philosopher Benjamin Constant. The essay will then discuss whether Kant is right in asserting the correct moral answer through the use of the Categorical Imperative.

Kant advocated a moral principle that, “It is a duty to tell the truth”[1].  He asserted that it would even be wrong to lie to a murderer who inquired as to the whereabouts of our friend so that he could harm our friend[2]. This is because the formal duty of being truthful is something that is owed by an individual…

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