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Truth, lies and deceit: on ethics in contemporary public life


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Malpas, J (2008) Truth, lies and deceit: on ethics in contemporary public life. International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 22 (1). pp. 1-12. ISSN 0739-098X

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On the one hand, most of us would take honesty to be a key
ethical virtue. Corporations and other organizations often include it in their
codes of ethics, we legislate against various forms of dishonesty, we tend
to be ashamed (or at least defensive) when we are caught not telling the
truth, and honesty is often regarded as a key element in relationships. Yet
on the other hand, dishonesty, that is, lying and deceit, seems to be commonplace
in contemporary public life even amongst those leading figures
in our society whom we might otherwise take to be the exemplars of public
virtue. So, is the emphasis on truth and honesty just a sham? Does the fact
of our actual practice mean that truth and honesty matter only rhetorically,
and, if so, does that mean that whatever it is we mean by ‘ethics,’
truth and honesty are not a part of it? What I will suggest is that truth is
indeed central to ethical practice, and not only to ethical practice, but also
to a properly democratic politics, and that the apparent breakdown in the
commitment to truth in public life is indicative of a deeper ethical, as well
as political, breakdown.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Malpas, J
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Applied Philosophy
Page Range: pp. 1-12
ISSN: 0739-098X
Additional Information:

© 2008 The International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2009 00:04
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:04
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