The Right to Lie by Christine Korsgaard

1185 WordsJan 26, 20185 Pages
In her paper, The right to lie: Kant on dealing with evil, Christine Korsgaard offers an example in which lying is morally permissible under one formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative yet not another. From this Korsgaard concludes that Kant’s formulations of Universal Law and of Humanity as an End in Itself are not equivalent, and that one is more strict than the other. In this paper I will present Korsgaard's example and then use her interpretation of the Formulation of Universal Law to evaluate what it would prescribe as the correct responses to three additional cases. Under the Formula of Universal Law no maxim is permissible if there exists in that maxim’s conception or universal application any contradiction; one of the most apparently relevant actions to consider under this formulation is lying. If in cases when I wanted others to believe something contrary to what I believe to be true I chose to lie, I would soon find that others would discredit all that I say. Further If everyone where to lie when it is to their advantage, no one would believe anyone else when they spoke. For these reasons under the Formula of Universal Law lying is not permissible, at any time, in any case. But it intuitively seems that there are times in which lying is permissible. One of Kant’s more controversial cases in which he stuck to the idea that lying would be wrong is that of the murderer at the door. If some murderer set on killing your roommate were to come to your door and ask

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