Course overview

Lying is generally perceived as unethical behaviour, and political decision-makers are often accused of lying. It is also often said that we live in a ‘post-truth’ era, in which people care more about effective rhetoric than about whether a claim is true. But the issues are more complicated than you might think. Philosophers have found that we all believe that lying is morally justified in certain situations and have distinguished between lying - not telling the truth - and ‘bullshitting’ (Harry Frankfurt’s term) - not caring about the truth. The course allows you to familiarize yourself with their arguments and evaluate them.

Course description

Most people regard lying as unethical but also often find themselves telling ‘white lies’, which they consider justified in certain circumstances. Philosophers have thought a lot about what lying means and whether it can ever be morally right not to tell the truth. They disagree in their conclusions, with some arguing that lying is morally defensible in certain situations, whereas others regard lying as morally wrong because it shows disrespect for those lied to. We will consider philosophical accounts of lying from a utilitarian, a Kantian and a virtue ethics point of view. Philosophers have also thought a lot about the meaning of truth and (more recently) ‘post-truth’. We will review and evaluate different philosophical accounts of the meaning of truth and post-truth including Julian Baggini’s classification. We will review and evaluate Harry Frankfurt’s essay ‘On Bullshit’.

By the end of the course you will be able to: 1. Explain how philosophers define lying 2. give reasons why lying may be considered morally justified, using arguments from utilitarian, a Kantian and virtue ethics philosophies 3. give reasons why lying may be considered morally objectionable, using arguments from utilitarian, a Kantian and virtue ethics philosophies 4. explain the difference between lying and ‘bullshit’ (Harry Frankfurt’s term) 5. evaluate the claim that we live in a ‘post-truth’ era

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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