What is the Morality of Telling a Lie?
Telling a lie is one of the most common mistakes humans make; hence, it is worth spending some time thinking about it. Since we were young, we have been taught that lying is wrong and the truth should prevail despite the circumstances and consequences. However, as we grew up, we realized that, at times, telling the truth could have a wide range of serious concerns, including denial of opportunities like in our case scenario.
Immanuel Kant’s answer to the question whether I should lie to the interviewer about Jane’s background would be ‘no.’ The German philosopher believed that lying under all circumstances is unethical and morally wrong. His argument was based on the idea that people are born with human dignity, which is consequential to the fact that individuals are distinctly rational personalities with the potential to make individualized informed decisions. He also believed that persons had the aptitude to set their objectives and goals and control their behavior by reason. According to Immanuel, being a human entails having the rational ability to make free choices and respecting the choices of other people around us.
As such, Kant would argue that lying to the interviewer about Jane’s background would contradict the part of ourselves that gives us moral worth. In fact, it would be wrong to lie to the interviewer, as the art of deceitfulness opposes the virtue of honesty. Moreover, it would deny the interviewer the free choice to make an informed decision. In other words, if the interviewer, the government representative, realizes that Jane has a questionable background, the decision would be different from what would be revealed if the truth was concealed. Therefore, Kant’s perspective would urge me to speak the truth about Jane’s background irrespective of the repercussions, owing to the idea that if I lied, I would contradict the intrinsic part of me that gives me moral value while at the same time rob the interviewer’s freedom of making an informed decision.
I believe telling the interviewer lies about Jane’s background would be permissible. The consequence of telling the truth might affect Jane suitability and consequently fail the interview, which is a golden opportunity. In this case, if the interviewer fails to discern this information during the interview, it is more likely that Jane will be employed and enjoy a promising life. I believe that lying in such a scenario would even be morally excusable. In fact, telling the truth in such a case would bring more harm than good to Jane, especially if she found out I was the cause of her failure in her career opportunity. In fact, this would not only break the trust and bond between us, but it would also destroy our associations.
Unlike Kant, who believes that individuals should not do certain things because of their consequences but instead do it out of duty, I feel that there are situations when lying is excusable. Although the consequences of lying about Jane’s background cannot be guaranteed, my intentions to help her get a job are moral. After all, we have a duty to preserve our lives, and any actions conducted out of this duty have intentions. Therefore, Kant might be wrong as there are situations that lying is permissible, as in Jane’s case scenario.