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The Ethics Of The Truth

             It will confound your enemies and astound your friends." As Mark Twain suggests in this quote, it is a good rule of thumb to live by. People have spend hundreds of years attempting to justify lies. Whether to lie, equivocate, be silent, or tell the truth in any given situation is a hard decision. People have spend hundreds of years attempting to justify lies. From Thomas Aquinas to Bill Clinton debates on lying have been ongoing without much of a consensus. .
             Philosopher's and common people alike have been divided on the subject of lying for many, many years. St. Thomas Aquinas defined lying as a statement at variance with the mind. (Slater) This definition is better than most of the definitions we find from more recent times. The Webster's New World Dictionary defines lying as the following: to make a statement or statements that one knows to be false, especially with the intent to deceive. This definition isn't completely correct, as it is possible to lie without making a false statement and without the intention of deceiving. Aristotle in his Ethics maintained that it is never permissible to lie, while Plato in The Republic allows doctors and statesmen to lie occasionally for the good of their patients and for the common wealth. Kant allowed a lie under absolutely no conditions. (Slater) St. Augustine created a doctrine used by the Western Church proving it is never lawful to tell a lie. He maintained an early absolutist philosophy based on the fact that lying is a perversion of the God-given power of speech. Machiavelli has a utilitarian approach to lying in that he believes lies can be justified by asserting that great things may be achieved by those who have little regard for the truth. (Dickey) No consensus has been reached, and the issue of lying has become a personal opinion. There isn't a set law on lying, and one person may feel that lying is abominable act, when another may regard it as simple a way of life.

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