the ethics of lying
SERIES

BEING HUMAN Article

DATE & TIME

17 JULY 2019
6:30 – 8pm

LOCATION

THE ETHICS CENTRE
Level 1, Legion House,
161 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000

Thou shalt not lie.

“Thou shalt not lie” is the most misquoted of all the commandments. It actually reads, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”. This is precise. Does it mean even the more absolutist and religious among us permit lying in certain situations?

A consequentialist would say it’s right to lie for a good outcome. Governments lie to protect their citizens. People lie to protect their loved ones. Yes, Santa will visit Christmas night. Your baby is gorgeous. I’ll support anything you do if it makes you happy.

Many of the big name western philosophers had stricter views. Augustine, Aquinas and Kant all held lying to be unethical, no matter their intent. Augustine even charted different types of fibs on a scale of severity, distinguishing those told with malicious intent to benefit the liar, and those told to protect that cause no harm. He still thought the latter unconscionable. Kant argued you shouldn’t even lie to save lives. These guys are not friends to have your back.  

Behavioural psychologists say we lie more than we realise, even to ourselves. They found we morally justify bad behaviour when we’ve done something good. I’ve been working hard so I’ll take a long lunch and tell the boss I’m at a meeting.  

The Ethics of Lying: it’s not black and white.

About ‘The Ethics Of…’ Series

‘The Ethics Of…’ is an intimate event series that delves into the minds of various experts to examine the experiences, hopes and challenges that make us truly human.

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Speakers

Dr Tim Dean

Tim Dean

Tim Dean is a doctor of moral philosophy and host of ‘The Ethics of Lying’. He will chart some of the great philosophical thinking on lying from “noble” fibs to malicious mistruths. Tim is really good at translating abstract ideas so they’re engaging and useful – so good he has been recognised with awards for his science writing and contributions to public philosophy.

jan-fran-ethics-centre

Jan Fran

As a journalist who chases truth and fact, Jan Fran has a finely tuned bullshit detector. The TV presenter hosts The Feed on SBSVICELAND, Medicine or Myth on SBS and the podcasts, Sexism and the City and The Few Who Do. Jan has shot and produced documentaries and news and current affairs programming across the globe, including Bangladesh, Uganda, and the United States.

Who is it for?


  • THE DIPLOMAT
  • THE GUILTY
  • THE HEDONIST

What you'll take away


  • 01A SPACE TO SHARE YOUR CHALLENGES
  • 02CHALLENGING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING IDEAS
  • 03WHICH VOICES TO PRIORITISE

Things to think about