Small who is looking for the innocent friend, would

Lies Can Save Lives

            Christine Korsgaard, a prominent moral philosopher, is
well known for her refutation of Immanuel Kant’s idea
of The Categorical Imperative, in which he states that the truth must be
presented at all times. Her writing focuses on the moral implications that
arise when a person interacts with individuals that possess an evil nature. The
purpose of this paper is to address the concept of Korsgaard’s Murderer at the Door scenario, as well as argue that
there are other reasons besides this specific scenario, to lie to another human
being. The other reasons that will be discussed include the idea of
self-preservation, to omit pain and suffering in a consequentialist manner, as
well as in the event of war.

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             Kantian ethics state that certain actions,
such as lying or murder, are completely and utterly prohibited at all times. In other words, Kant fully supported the idea of
deontological moral theory, where one is judged on the actions completed, and
that all actions follow specific moral codes. In this case, lying is
prohibited since the act of lying itself is making an exception to oneself, and
violating the categorial imperative. However, Christine Korsgaard demonstrated
a fallacy in Kant’s thinking when she stated the Murderer
at the Door conundrum. In this scenario, Kant’s absolutist ideals fall short when the murderer
at the door who is looking for the innocent friend, would not appear to be a
murderer, nor would he think that one realizes that he is the murderer.
In this case, it is plausible to lie about the whereabouts of this particular
friend, since one is protecting the friend that is at risk of being killed by
the murderer. The murderer is placing himself in a compromising position, since
he is the primary deceiver. Thus, Korsgaard believes that it is acceptable to
lie to the murderer, since deception is involved. In addition to deception,
there are alternate reasons as to why lying can be acceptable. 

            In Kantian ethics, there is no permissible reason to lie,
since it is a violation of a Universal Law.
However, the idea of self-preservation and protection can be deemed as more
compulsory compared to the violation of the Universal
law of truths. For example, in Korsgaard’s Murderer
at the door conundrum, the murderer is potentially threatening the lives
of the residents in that property, as well as the fleeing friend.  If the person at the
door were to tell the truth or stay silent, in accordance to Kantian ethics, he
or she would be putting themselves and other individuals at risk, which is
completely unacceptable. In the hierarchy of human needs,
self-preservation of life is more crucial than deceiving others that may
perhaps harm another individual. In another situation, if a murderer were to
enter a home and ask two parents if they are the only individuals residing in
the home, it would be in the best interest of the parents to lie to the
murderer in order to potentially save the lives of the children in that
household. Although this action defies the universal law and Kantian ethics, it
is imperative to realize that there are instances where lying is necessary,
especially in the terms of protecting the lives of others, or in

            Korsgaard states that the primary
mechanism behind Kant’s ideals is deontological moral theory. In other
words, moral deontologists believe that every single action that is completed,
can be morally judged as either acceptable or unacceptable. The opposing theory is considered consequentialism, where the
ends justify the means of an action. Korsgaard is deemed as a consequentialist,
since, she believes that lying to the murderer is acceptable due to the fact
that the consequences of death are more prominent than the consequences of
lying. Consequentialists also believe that if telling the truth would cause
more harm than telling a lie, it would be beneficial to tell the lie instead. For
example, if the mother of a child was brutally murdered, it would be better to
lie to the child and say that the mother died in a car accident instead. The
reason for this lie is to preserve the child’s innocence and shield him or her
from the gruesome details of his or her mother’s death, which could cause
irreversible psychological damage. When the child is older, and can understand
the evils that lurk this Earth, it would then be acceptable to tell the child
the truth about the mother’s death. The consequentialist ideals of telling a
lie to prevent pain and suffering is crucial in certain situations, similar to
the Korsgaard scenario.

            From a day to day standpoint, it is considered rude and
unethical to continuously lie since there is a violation of trust that is
completed. However, in certain scenarios, such as in the event of war, it would
be imperative to commit the act of false truths. Korsgaard
summarizes that deceit is acceptable if one is being deceived, in which it is
perfectly acceptable to lie to individuals who are deceitful, since he or she
has already violated the foundation of trust that society is built upon.
The motto of most soldiers is to protect the country that they serve and defeat
the enemy. Some of the most common methods of winning a war involve tactics
such as deception and diversion, which are both considered forms of deceit.
Both parties are aware that the other are going to utilize these tactics in
order to successfully win the war. For example, if soldiers were captured by
the opposing side for questioning, it would be in the best interest of the
soldiers to lie to the captors, so that the lives of other soldiers can be
spared. It would be in the best interest of national security to lie to the
enemy, so that the lives of others can be spared. In terms of Korsgaard, since
both war parties are deceiving each other, it is perfectly acceptable for the
soldiers to lie to each other.

            Overall, the premise of Kantian
ethics is in regard to deontological moral theory, where every single action
has accountability and can be distinguished as either morally acceptable or
unacceptable.  Kant states that
all individuals deserve the truth, since it is a fundamental foundation for
society, and is vital in preserving autonomy. However, Korsgaard states that
the act of lying is permissible in the case of the Murderer
at the Door scenario, where the murderer inquires as to whether a
specific person is residing in the house. In this case, it is permissible to
lie to the murderer since the trust has already been breached by the murderer,
since his identity has not been divulged. In addition to the murderer at the
door scenario, it is also acceptable to lie in the case of preservation of life
or self- preservation. Also, in terms of consequentialists, if the truth would
create more harm than the lie, it would be advisable to lie, to avoid certain
scenarios such as pain or suffering. Lastly, another example where lying should
be deemed permissible is in terms of war. In this case, both sides are enacting
methods of deceit, and thus should be able to lie to maintain and protect
national security. All in all, Kantian ethics in regards to truth has a few issues, especially in terms of the various
evils that arise in society, as addressed by Korsgaard.