Administrative Lies and Philosopher-Kings

Philosophical Inquiry 18 (3-4):45-65 (1996)
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The question of whether lies by those who govern are acceptable receives a clear focus and an ideal case in the Republic. Against C. D. C. Reeve, and T. C. Brickhouse and N. D Smith, I argue that the Republic’s apparent recommendation of administrative lies is incoherent. While lies may be a necessary part of the City’s administration, the process and practice of lying undermines that nature which is necessary for any suitable ruler – rendering the ideal impossible. I argue that this analysis, while concerned with an ideal case, also applies to the political realist’s regrettable-but-necessary defence of such practices.

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