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Lying and Christian Ethics


Part of New Studies in Christian Ethics

  • Date Published: April 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107685680

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About the Authors
  • This book defends the controversial 'absolute view' of lying, which maintains that an assertion contrary to the speaker's mind is always wrong, regardless of the speaker's intentions. Whereas most people believe that a lie told for a good cause, such as protecting Jews from discovery by Nazis, is morally acceptable, Christopher Tollefsen argues that Christians should support the absolute view. He looks back to the writings of Augustine and Aquinas to illustrate that lying violates the basic human goods of integrity and sociality and severely compromises the values of religion and truth. He critiques the comparatively permissive views espoused by Cassian, Bonhoeffer, and Niebuhr and argues that lies often jeopardize the good causes for which they are told. Beyond framing a moral absolute against lying, this book explores the questions of to whom we owe the truth and when, and what steps we may take when we should not give it.

    • Very readable, non-technical prose
    • Striking conclusion: even for a good cause, lying is always wrong
    • Argues that social movements are corrupted by lying in service of moral truth, and that democracy is ill-served by the lies of those with authority
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… the book offers a serious and sustained theological look at the real consequences of lying from the viewpoint of Catholic moral theology … Recommended.' A. W. Klink, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107685680
    • length: 223 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    General editor's preface
    1. What is lying?
    2. The Christian case against lying: Augustine and Aquinas
    3. The Christian case for lying: Cassian, Bonhoeffer, and Niebuhr
    4. Moral absolutes
    5. Integrity, sociality, truth, and religion
    6. Justice and the right to truth
    7. The casuistry of truth-telling and deception
    8. Lying for a good cause

  • Author

    Christopher O. Tollefsen, University of South Carolina
    Christopher Tollefsen is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. He has also been a visiting Associate Professor of Politics and a visiting fellow in the James Madison Program at Princeton University, New Jersey. He serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy and Christian Bioethics. His most recent book is Biomedical Research and Beyond: Expanding the Ethics of Inquiry (2010).

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