Jackson, Jennifer, and . Telling the Truth

1991, Journal of Medical Ethics 17(1): 5-9.

Abstract: Are doctors and nurses bound by just the same constraints as everyone else in regard to honesty? What, anyway, does honesty require? Telling no lies? Avoiding intentional deception by whatever means? From a utilitarian standpoint lying would seem to be on the same footing as other forms of intentional deception: yielding the same consequences. But utilitarianism fails to explain the wrongness of lying. Doctors and nurses, like everyone else, have a prima facie duty not to lie – but again like everyone else, they are not duty-bound to avoid intentional deception, lying apart; except where it would involve a breach of trust.

Comment: Useful in teaching on applied ethics issues related to trust, and general values in normative ethics. To provide an interesting narrative and selection of views, this text can be used alongside Jennifer Saul's 'Just go ahead and lie' and Clea Rees' 'Better lie!'

Rees, Clea F., and . Better lie!

2014, Analysis 74(1): 59-64.

Abstract: I argue that lying is generally morally better than mere deliberate misleading because the latter involves the exploitation of a greater trust and more seriously abuses our willingness to fulfil epistemic and moral obligations to others. Whereas the liar relies on our figuring out and accepting only what is asserted, the mere deliberate misleader depends on our actively inferring meaning beyond what is said in the form of conversational implicatures as well. When others’ epistemic and moral obligations are determined by standard assumptions of communicative cooperation and no compelling moral reason justifies mere deliberate misleading instead, one had better lie.

Comment: This text works particularly well when used together with Jennifer Saul's "Just go ahead and lie" (2012).

Saul, Jennifer, and . Just go ahead and lie

2012, Analysis. 72(1): 3-9.

Abstract: The view that lying is morally worse than merely misleading is a very natural one, which has had many prominent defenders. Nonetheless, here I will argue that it is misguided: holding all else fixed, acts of mere misleading are not morally preferable to acts of lying, and successful lying is not morally worse than merely deliberately misleading. In fact, except in certain very special contexts, I will suggest that – when faced with a felt need to deceive – we might as well just go ahead and lie.

Comment: This text can be used to inspire a discussion on general ethical issues and the practical application of moral theories. It is particularly useful in teaching applied professional ethics. It works well when used together with Clea F. Rees' "Better Lie!"