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Jacques Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784 - page 50 / 80

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KANT AND MORALITY II

Some people think that Kant’s devotion to the moral law can have absurd consequences.  For instance, he said that it is our duty always to tell the truth.  As such it would not seem permissible ever to tell a lie, even to save the life of another person!

We have an obligation to tell the truth since lying cannot be universalized, and we have an obligation to help others for reasons seen above in the fourth test of the categorical imperative.  Might we not then need to lie to help another?  And doesn’t this raise a problem about conflicting duties?

However this might be dealt with, since moral rules like telling the truth, are both universally valid - for everyone, at every time and at every place - and thus admit of no exceptions - for Kant we have an absolute duty to follow them.

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