Lying, Deception, and Dishonesty: Kant and the Contemporary Debate on the Definition of Lying

In Luigi Caranti & Alessandro Pinzani (eds.), Kant and the Problem of Morality: Rethinking the Contemporary World. Routledge. pp. 73-91 (2022)
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Although Kant is one of the very few classical writers referred to in the current literature on lying, hardly any attention is paid to how his views relate to the contemporary discussion on the definition of lying. I argue that, in Kant’s account, deception is not the defining feature of lying. Furthermore, his view is able to acknowledge non-deceptive lies. Kant thus holds, I suggest, a version of what is currently labelled Intrinsic Anti-Deceptionism. In his specific version of such a view, furthermore, dishonesty is the distinctive feature of lying. Finally, I highlight the important methodological differences between Kant’s normatively minded account and the primarily descriptive contemporary discussion, with regard to the role of intuitions and definitions in building a moral theory: In contrast to the current debate, Kant does not rely on intuitions, but defines lying in terms of the obligation it violates.

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Stefano Bacin
Università degli Studi di Milano


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