critical account of Kants short text : 666190


Write a critical account of Kant’s short text “On a supposed right to lie from philanthropy”. A good translation of this text is in Kant’s Practical Philosophy, a volume edited and translated by Mary Gregor and published by Cambridge University Press in 1996. There are several copies available in the library, some on 1-day short loan. Alternatively, if you find it really difficult to find a copy, a decent translation is freely available online. If you have any problems, let me know (

What to do:
• read Kant’s short text;
• try to identify Kant’s argument against a right to lie;
• do further research on the basis of secondary literature (some texts are suggested below);
• explain your answer to the question whether or not there should be a right to lie from philanthropy.


• Kant’s short text

Kant’s essay responds to a challenge that Benjamin Constant tend to pose to a fundamental principle of practical philosophy that lying has always been wrong. With this, there would be a crime to lie to a murdered who tend to focus on pursuing to take refuge in our house (Christine, 1986) . Constant continues, with rendering the society impossible as it gives the murderers a complete right to information that helps in harming other innocent people.

• try to identify Kant’s argument against a right to lie

A lie is merely defined as the intentional untruthful declaration to the other man who do not require the additional condition that it must be harmful to other people. For a lie that harms others, if not some other human being, then it vitiates the source of right. The well-intentioned lie could become easily punishable when set in accordance to the civil laws mainly because of the accident. It then avoids the liability to punishment only by accident which can also be condemned as wrong by the external laws. A lie is defined merely as an intentional untruthful declaration to the other man who doe not need any additional condition to harm others. For a lie that harms others, if not some human beings, then it is nevertheless does harm to humanity as it vitiates the source of right (Kant, 2013).  The intentioned lie is punishable in accordance to the civil law because of the accident that avoids the liability to punishment only by accident which can also be condemned to be wrong by the external laws.

• do further research base on secondary literature

Kant focus on clarifying the morally responsible factors by not telling others the truth. He aims to defend the view where one is compelled by the unjust constraints in order to prevent any threatened misdeed to himself or to others (Denis, 2013). The views are based on expressing a position consistency with the moral writings, where we need to appreciate about how the essay focus on:

  1. The point of virtue, where lying always tend to be impermissible.
  2. Kant tend to maintain both where no one has a proper authorisation to the lies and not all of them are legally wrong from the point of private rights.
  3. Kant also believes only when it tends to deprive others of something with which they already have a right (Elliott, 1994).

The analysis is about working on the principles that are strict so that they are alleged to lose themselves in impracticable ideas and hence are therefore rejected. The question is also about how the civil tribunal therefrom and pay penalty regardless of how the unforeseen consequences tend to be. Constant remarks about the regards which are set to decry to different principles which are strict to be alleged to lose oneself in the impractical ideas. All the practical principles of right tend to contain rigorous truth with the middle principle that contain only a closer determination of the applications with rules of politics to cases that happen to occur. This is mainly related to how one is truthful in situations involving the threatening murderers where one tends to choose to abstain from interaction, with saving the responsibility of what follows for the murderer (JJames & Mahon, 2006). There are ways to change the example like the reasoning changing with invoking scenarios where the public court would tend to find all related lying forms.

• explain your answer to the question whether or not there should be a right to lie from philanthropy.

If we focus on the true generalisation, there are justifications of moralists who exaggerate the strictness of important moral rules with casting doubt on wisdom and integrity of philosophers who tend to derive the conceptual titillation from devising the counterexamples to them (Kant, 2013). Kant also focus on working over the restrictions of their conduct using the murderer at the door arguments with justifying the lying or arguments. (Michael, 2009) The decisive potions are related to the charge which seems exaggerated with the policy of politicians to permit for worthy ends. One needs to undertake actions that attacks the public institutions where one does the public wrongs. The lying becomes a punishable wrong when done to or by the public authority mainly.




Christine M. Korsgaard., 1986. “The Right to Lie: Kant on Dealing with evil”, in Philosophy and Public Affairs. 15(3): 325-349.
Denis, L., 2013. Moral self-regard: Duties to oneself in Kant’s moral theory. Routledge.

Elliott Sober., 1994. “The Primacy of Truth-Telling and the Evolution of Lying” in From a Biological Point of View. New York: Cambridge University Press.
James E. Mahon., 2006. “Kant and the Perfect Duty to Others Not to Lie”. British Journal for the History of Philosophy. 14(4): 653-685.
Kant, I., 2013. Immanuel Kant’s critique of pure reason. Read Books Ltd.

Michael Cholbi., 2009. “The Murderer at the Door: What Kant Should Have Said”, in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 79(1): 17-46.