Seek the truth as a moral imperative

Immanuel Kant's view of the absolute prohibition of lying

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Explanation of terms
1.1.1 lie
1.1.2 Truthfulness
1.1.3 Metaphysics
1.1.4 the categorical imperative
1.1.5 Philanthropy

2 The lie and the duty
2.1 Background to the font
2.2 Content rendering and analysis of the argumentation structure of Kant's writing About a supposed right to lie out of philanthropy
2.3 Analysis of the key question

3 Theming in the subject-matter class
3.1 Why it is important to philosophize with children
3.2 Addressing the absolute ban on lying in non-fiction classes
3.3 Conclusion

4 Conclusion

5 literature

1 Introduction

You shouldn't lie!This somewhat modified interpretation of the 8th commandment of the Bible is known to everyone as a moral principle. Children are already told at an early stage that a lie is something negative, as the Italian children's book character Pinocchio shows with his nose growing while lying. Also a lot of idioms like Anyone who lies once is not believed! or Lies have short legs! show that lying is undesirable in society.

Still, falsehoods are commonplace. On average, every person lies around 200 times a day (cf. Langer, Demmer 1994, p. 61), possibly out of shame, as a lie of purpose or a white lie.

A famous German philosopher of the 18th century expressed a very strict opinion about lying by speaking in his writing About a supposed right to lie out of philanthropy from 1797 pronounced an unconditional ban on lying. This author, Immanuel Kant, who is counted among the three greatest thinkers in history by the German philosopher Karl Jaspers alongside Plato and Augustine, caused many controversial discussions with this work (cf. Ludwig 2009, p. 20).

Since lying already plays a major role in childhood, the topic is viewed from Kant's perspective as the basis for teaching in this thesis. The subject of lies and truth is not directly anchored in the framework curriculum and in the perspective framework of the subject teaching of the state of Brandenburg, but it forms a good basis for philosophizing with children, which can be practiced in this subject.

In this work, Immanuel Kant's writing is analyzed with regard to its argumentation and, above all, the question of the extent to which the author refers to the principle of the categorical imperative in this work. To this end, a few terms are defined at the beginning, the meaning of which is of decisive value for Kant and especially in the scripture analyzed in this work. After analyzing the text with regard to the central question, the potential of the topics lie and Prohibition of lies examined for implementation in the context of subject teaching. For this purpose, philosophizing with children is discussed.

1.1 Explanation of terms

Immanuel Kant often uses certain terms in his writings that have a special meaning for him. Therefore, in the following some, for the font analyzed in this work About a supposed right to lie out of philanthropy, relevant terms are taken up and explained with regard to Kant's definitions.

1.1.1 lie

For Immanuel Kant, the violation of the duty of truthfulness is a lie, whereby not only a false statement, but also silence counts as a lie. Even giving a statement that one is not entirely sure of is true for him is one of them. He is of the opinion that humanity is hurting itself and destroying its human dignity (cf. Eisler 1989, p. 335).

1.1.2 Truthfulness

This term is of great importance for the work analyzed in this work. Above all, the demarcation from the term truth is decisive for Immanuel Kant.

A person cannot always guarantee that a statement is true, since he can also be wrong, but that it is true, that is in the power of the person, since he can check this through his intellect and his conscience. Thus truthfulness is the subjective truth of a person. For Kant it is an unlimited imperative to be truthful in all statements (cf. Eisler 1989, p. 358).

1.1.3 Metaphysics

Metaphysics was Kant's interest, and it is the overarching category of what he is primarily concerned with. According to a legend, this concept originates from ancient Greece, around 70 years BC, and was coined by Andronikos of Rhodes, who tried to organize the works of the philosopher Aristotle. The order included first the philosophical books that related to nature (Greek: physis), and then (Greek: meta) the philosophical books that went beyond that and dealt with beings. they were meta ta physika called because they came after the nature related works.

"Metaphysics is simply the classic basic form of occidental philosophy." (Ludwig 2009, p. 13). It includes the knowledge of being by asking about the reason for thinking, knowing, being and being. (see Ludwig 2009, pp. 12-15; Eisler 1989, pp. 354-364).

1.1.4 the categorical imperative

Kant distinguishes the imperative in two types - the hypothetical and the categorical imperative. The hypothetical imperative only applies to those who want to achieve a specific purpose with a possible action (cf. Eisler 1989, p. 267). The categorical imperative, on the other hand, should be valid for everyone. Kant formulated it as follows: "The categorical imperative is therefore one and only one, namely this: act only according to the maxim by which you can also want it to become a general law." (Cf. Eisler 1989, p . 268).

Kant has the categorical imperative in his work basis on the metaphysics of ethics Developed. "This represents the highest moral principle [...] on which we can orient our moral actions." (Cf. Frey / Schmalzried 2013, p. 79). The main idea of ​​the categorical imperative is that we judge our own actions by the same standards that we would apply to the actions of others. In order to distinguish whether an action is moral or not, one should think about whether one would like everyone in the same situation to behave in the same way (cf. Frey / Schmalzried 2013, p. 79).

1.1.5 Philanthropy

By the term philanthropy as a virtue, which can already be found in the title of the essay analyzed in this work, Kant understands a reciprocal one active benevolencewhich includes every person according to the principle of equality. In Kant's work The metaphysics of morals it is defined as "(...) the skill of inclination to do good at all (...)" (Grünewald 2008, p. 153). It includes the duties of charity, gratitude and participation to the extent that is possible in spite of other duties, which is of great importance for this work. Mutuality is also important for Kant, assuming that every person in an emergency situation wishes to be helped and therefore has to help others in order to experience this themselves (cf. Eisler 1989, p. 330 ; Grünewald 2008, p. 153).

2 The lie and the duty

2.1 Background to the font

To the categorical imperative to justify Kant drew three examples "for the legal and ethical categorical imperatives" (cf. Oberer 1986, p. 7). These are briefly shown below:

1. "[T] he legal requirement of the unconditional execution of the death penalty for murderers [...]". (see Oberer 1986, p. 7)
2. "[T] he unconditional and unrestricted ethical prohibition of suicide [...]". (see Oberer 1986, p. 7)
3. "[T] he unconditional ethical and legal prohibition of lying [...]". (see Oberer 1986, p. 7)

The last example mentioned forms the basis for showing the significant dispute between Immanuel Kant and Benjamin Constant. It must be mentioned that the controversy between Kant and Constant was not first invented in the 18th century. Historically, the moral consideration of the permissibility and impermissibility of lies is an ancient topos (cf. Oberer 1986, p. 7). For Oberer, however, the dispute between the philosopher Kant and the politician and writer Constant is an extreme case (cf. Oberer 1986, p. 7). Thus there is hardly a moral-philosophical view that has experienced so many contradictions as that in Immanuel Kant's published essay About a supposed right to lie out of philanthropy from the year 1797. In this, Kant defended his view that "one must always be truthful in his statements and under all circumstances and not even the intention to prevent a crime by lying can justify an untruthfulness." (cf. Grünewald 2008 , P. 149). With this writing he directed himself against Benjamin Constant's writing Des ré action politiques1 from 1797 in which Constant speaks out against an absolute ban on lying (cf. Campagna 2003, p. 75). In his essay, Constant took offense at the statements and in particular at the example of the murderer2, a German philosopher. Kant himself could not remember in which of his writings he had given the example given by Constant, but identified himself with the German philosopher mentioned by Constant (cf. Oberer 1986, p. 12) and responded accordingly with his writing About a supposed right to lie out of philanthropy on the French politician and writer.

Constant never questions that telling the truth is a duty, but for him this abstract principle cannot be applied to general reality at any point in time (cf. Campagna 2003, p. 78). “This principle is, in itself, inapplicable. It would destroy society. If one rejects it, however, society will perish no less, because all the foundations of morality would then become invalid. Based on this statement, we would find ourselves in a dilemma, because both the use and the non-use of a lie would inevitably lead to the downfall of society (cf. Campagna 2003, p. 78). In order to find a way out of the dilemma presented here, Constant recommends resorting to a negotiating principle in which one undertakes to tell the truth to those who are also entitled to it. From this point of view, the principle was conveyed with reality and made usable (cf. Campagna 2003, p. 79).

Both Kant and Constant insist “on the necessity of principles” (cf. Campagna 2003, p. 84) only, in contrast to Kant, Constant believes that only by resorting to specific rules is the concrete application of general rules possible (cf. Campagna 2003, p. 84). In what follows we shall consider Kant's reaction to the writing of Benjamin Constant.

2.2 Content rendering and analysis of the argumentation structure of Kant's paper on an alleged right to lie out of philanthropy

In the font related to Constant's publication, as explained in Chapter 2.1 About a supposed right to lie out of philanthropy from 1797, Kant describes his reflections on lies using a concrete example which he takes up again and again. It is about the situation that you give a friend shelter yourself, a murderer is on your doorstep looking for him and asks where the friend is, so you yourself are faced with the decision to lie or to tell the truth accept. Both Constant and Kant try to determine how to react in a morally correct manner in this dilemma.

[...]



1 dt. "About political reaction"

2 “B comes to the door of A, who has his friend C with him at the moment, and asks whether he, whom he obviously wants to murder, is in the house. To the apparently just as clear and simple double question of whether A, if he cannot avoid his answer with yes or no, should answer B. out of philanthropy Kant says in a small paper that it is entitled to lie (with regard to C) (question I) or even obliged (question II) About a supposed right to lie out of philanthropy the clear answer of an unconditional negative [...] "(cf. Geismann 1988, p. 293, cf. also chapter 2.2)

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