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Lying and Autonomy

" Therefore, lying always undermines or violates the principle of beneficence.

Justice refers to acting in a way that promotes the just distribution of social goods, based on the notion that all human beings should have the same moral and legal rights. Those in favor of lying in some cases point to the case of war and the need to lie to the enemy. As Best (2) argues, in "In war, matters of life-and-death take precedence over honesty. If enemies can be deceived it...can make the difference between victory and defeat." This is a difficult issue to refute, but by lying to the enemy leaders act in a manner of self-preservation at the expense of other human lives. By lying to the enemy and successfully dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. leaders also killed millions of innocent civilians. In other words, they did not extend those civilians the same moral and legal rights as they enjoyed so they violated the principle of justice. War forces difficult decisions on leaders, but this does not mask the fact that even in times of life-and-death lying may be used but that this does not make it moral.

Autonomy is a deeply cherished and universal value of all people. Being treated with respect and dignity and having a choice over the decisions that impact one's own life are cherished concepts. This is why the moral principle of autonomy is often involved in measuring the ethicality of an action like abortion or end-of-life decisions, since violating the autonomy of another is often viewed as immoral in its own right. People who lie to loved ones or friends often justify the behavior as considerate of the feelings of these individuals whom they value. However, these - what are typically called "white lies" - lies are more than just the "polite" behavior or "considerate" actions of those who perpetuate them. Ultimately, such lies create distance and erode credibility in relationships. This is because they ...

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Lying and Autonomy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:31, August 19, 2017, from
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