Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Liar Liar Pants On Fire

The 7th session of Professor Sandel's Harvard philosophy class on Justice discusses what Kant thought about lying, reminding me of the doctrine of mental reservation (Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate) .... I think Kant would see mental reservation as a misleading truth that pays homage to duty, but I'd disagree. The second part of the Justice class is about John Rawls's idea of deciding what's just for all through a veil of ignorance of one's own particular situation, reminding me of a post on NT Wright and Rawls (Justice).

But enough about me :) here's the blurb for the Justice class, and below that, the video ....

Part 1 - A LESSON IN LYING: Immanuel Kant believed that telling a lie, even a white lie, is a violation of one’s own dignity. Professor Sandel asks students to test Kant’s theory with this hypothetical case: if your friend were hiding inside your home, and a person intent on killing your friend came to your door and asked you where he was, would it be wrong to tell a lie? This leads to a video clip of one of the most famous, recent examples of dodging the truth: President Clinton talking about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Part 2 - A DEAL IS A DEAL: Sandel introduces the modern philosopher, John Rawls, who argues that a fair set of principles would be those principles we would all agree to if we had to choose rules for our society and no one had any unfair bargaining power.


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