Volume 13, Issue 1, Spring
A. T. Nuyen
Lying and Deceiving Moral Choice in Public and Private Life
Suppose that there are good or morally defensible reasons for not responding truthfully to a question or request for information. Is a lie or a deception better as a means to avoid telling the truth? There are many situations in public and private life in which the answer to this question would serve as a useful moral guide, for instance, clinical situations involving dying patients, educational situations involving young children and personal situations involving close friends. Intuitively, we feel that there is a moral asymmetry in favor of deceiving over lying. However, doubts have been cast on such intuition. The aim of this paper is to bolster this intuition. It will be argued that the claim of moral asymmetry in favor of deception can be supported on a consideration of the different degrees of expectation involved in communicative ethics. Two other objections to the claim of asymmetry will also be considered.