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Categorical imperative: Should a person lie to protect another person's reputation?

Updated on November 30, 2017
Patrick Patrick profile image

Patrick has been working as a freelance writer for the past 3 years

Lies and Truth


To Lie or Not?

First, lying to protect the reputation of another person would go in to tarnishing whatever reputation the person had given that lying would mean that they are not willing to be responsible for their actions. The categorical imperative is the approach that denotes the absolute, unconditional requirement, which has to be obeyed in any and all circumstances, being justified as an end in it. This is to mean that we should only act to the maxim whereby we can, at the same time, will, or agree that it should be the universal law.

Categorical Imperative

If I am to lie in order to protect the reputation of my friend, then I should also accept that this be practiced by every other person in the world, and therefore become the norm. However, with lying becoming the norm, which would devalue any trust that people may have had for each other. This therefore goes to mean that we should never lie even if it is with the intention of protecting the reputation of a friend. In so doing, nothing about us or those we are lying for would be trustworthy. For instance, in such a situation, my friend (who I am lying for) would doubt whether I, myself am trustworthy while I would doubt whether he/she is trustworthy, or whether this is something he/she has done in more than one occasion.



Final Words

Failure to tell the truth, and thus lying would therefore ultimately mean that no one can be trusted. This is not a conducive society for anyone in any social or business setting. This is also likely to result in a variety of other problems within the society including the inability to build trustworthy relationships with others or even trusting leaders. Given that I would not wish for lying to become the norm in the society therefore, I am of the opinion that we should not lie in order to protect the reputation of our friends.


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    • Patrick Patrick profile image

      Patrick 5 months ago from Nairobi

      So you would agree that everyone else do the same? What about when telling the truth can be if great help? like saving someone from being falsely accused and imprisoned

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 5 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      If you lie, you run the risk of ruining your own reputation when the truth is eventually discovered. It is best to keep your mouth shut or just walk away. We should deal with individuals and not make hasty generalizations about groups of people (prejudice). Give some specific examples, but realize we will never know the whole truth.