Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers: What Can We Learn from Mill and Kant? ALASDAIR MACINTYRE THE TANNER LECTURES ON HUMAN VALUES Delivered at Princeton University April 6 and 7, 1994 A LASDAIR M ACINTYRE is Arts and Sciences Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. He was educated at Queen Mary College, University of London, and at the University of Manchester.
He taught at various British universities, including Oxford and Essex, until 1970. Since then he has taught at a number of American universities, most recently at Vanderbilt University where he was the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy from 1982 to 1988, and from 1989 to 1994 at the University of Notre Dome, where he was the McMahon/Hank Professor of Philosophy.
He is past president of the eastern division of the American Philosophical Association. His numerous publications include Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry (1990), First Principles, Final Ends and Contemporary Philosophical Issues (1990), Whose Justice? Which Rationality?
(1988), After Virtue (1981), Secularization and Moral Change (1967), and A Short History of Ethics (1966). When children are still quite young, they learn not one, but two rules concerning truth-telling and lying and these in very different ways. One of those rules they learn ... more. less.
by explicit instruction, characteristically when they have 'rst been discovered in a lie.<br><br> What they are then taught is that ti is wrong to lie, but what the rule is that is invoked notoriously varies from culture to culture and sometimes within cultures. For some lying as such is prohibited. For others some types of lie are permitted or even enjoined, but about which types of lie are permitted or enjoined there are also signi'cant differences.<br><br> It is not dif'cult to understand why. Among those types of lie that are often permitted or enjoined in different social orders are certain types of protective lie, lies designed to defend oneself or one 9s household or community from invasive hostility, perhaps from religious persecutors or witches or the tax-collectors of some alien power, or to shield the vulnerable, perhaps children or the dangerously ill, from knowledge thought to be harmful to them. since who is judged to need protection from what varies from one social and cultural order to another, which of these types of lie are permitted oreenjoined can be expected to vary accordingly.<br><br> But these are not the only types of exception that are sometimes accorded social recognition and sanction. And, unsurprisingly, re)ection upon how the rule that provides for such different types of exception should be formulated and justi'ed commonly gives rise to controversy. Consider as on contributor to those controversies a moral tradition that belongs to the background history of our own moral culture.<br><br> One of the earlier statements of that tradition, often appealed to later on, is in Book III of the Republic (382c-d), where Socrates is represented as describing some lies as useful against enemies or for the prevention of evils. Some Greek patristic theologians, among them St. Clement of Alexandria, held similarly that on occasion untruths might be told, for example, to protect the Christian community from the invasive enquiries of persecutors.<br><br> About precisely what classes of untruths were permitted they and later writers sometimes differ from each other, and they also disagree among themselves in the precise  310 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values statement of the view that they share, some saying that all lying is prohibited, but that an untruth told for a just reason is not a lie, others that some lying is not prohibited. Newman in summarizing their shared standpoint emphasized that all of them agree that the occurrence of such a just reason cis, in fact, extreme, rare, great, or at least special d (Apologia pro Vita Sua, note G). Modern exponents of this view, he adds, include John Milton, Jeremy Taylor, and St.<br><br> Alfonso di Liguorio. None of these were, of course, consequentialists. Their position was expressed succinctly by Samuel Johnson: cThe general rule is, that Truth should never be violated, because it is of the utmost importance to the comfort of life, that we should have a full security by mutual faith ....<br><br> There must, however, be some exceptions. If, for instance, a murderer should ask you which way a man is gone, you may tell him what is not true, because you are under a previous obligation not to betray a man to a murderer .... But I deny the lawfulness of telling a lie to a sick man for fear of alarming him.<br><br> You have no business with consequences; you are to tell the truth d (James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, June 13, 1784). John Milton, Jeremy Taylor, and Alfonso di Liguorio would all have agreed with Johnson that there is indeed an hierarchical ordering of duties and obligations and that any type of exception to an otherwise universal binding rule can be justi'ed only as required by some other binding rule that is superior in that ordering. But Johnson 9s statement suggests at the very least consequentialist questions.<br><br> If there is indeed an ordering of duties and obligations, what is the principle by which they are ordered, if it is not a consequentialist principle? The consequentialism of J. S.<br><br> Mill, for example, was intended to provide, by means of the principle enjoining the promotion of the greatest happiness of the greatest number, a standard for just such an ordering. What an evaluation of consequences by means of that principle is to tell us is which binding rules in practice at least have no exceptions (or almost so; see the penultimate paragraph of chapter 5 of Utilitarianism) -the rules prescribing justice, for example [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 311 4 and which do have a few well-de'ned classes of exception, such as that otherwise prohibiting lying. And the onus seems to be on the adherents of Johnson 9s Christian anticonsequentialism to offer us an alternative and rationally superior principle of ordering.<br><br> Moreover, if the rule prescribing truthfulness is to be defended as Johnson defends it, further consequentialist questions are raised. Conformity to the rule prescribing truth-telling seems for Johnson to be a means to a further end, what Johnson calls cthe comfort of life, d a necessary condition for which is cthat we should have full security by mutual faith. d But insofar as this rule is treated only as a means to some such further end, no matter how important, the possibility of evaluating the consequences of making a few well-de'ned exceptions to it has been opened up. And once again we need to know why we should not move to some more general consequentialist position, such as Mill 9s.<br><br> One answer to this question may well be that I have only reached a point at which it seems dif'cult to reply to consequentialist claims, because I erred in my starting point. I began after all by considering the kinds of explicit rules that are taught to young children when they are 'rst detected in a lie, perhaps at three or four years of age, and at once noted that often such rules allow for exceptions to the general prohibition of lying. But, it may be said, I ought to have begun with another, more fundamental exceptionless rule, one learned somewhat earlier and not by explicit instruction.<br><br> This is the rule prescribing truth-telling that we all learned to follow by learning to speak our native language, whatever it is. That rule governs speech-acts of assertion. To assert is always and inescapably to assert as true, and learning that truth is required from us in assertions is therefore inseparable from learning what it is to assert.<br><br> So two Danish philosophers of language, H. Johansen and Erik Stenius, suggested that cthe utterance of a falsehood is really a breach of a semantic rule d (Erik Stenius, cMood and Language Games, d Synthèse 17, no. 3 [1967), 269), although Stenius understood the relevant rule as one concerning what he called the language-game of reporting, while in fact it is assertion 312 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values in general 4 acts of reporting are only one species of acts of assertion 4 that is governed by the semantic rule cAssert p, only if p is true. d Mary Catherine Gormally has more recently characterized the relationship of lying to assertion by saying that ca lie (in language) is a cheating move in the language-game of truth telling d ( cThe Ethical Root of Language d in Logic and Ethics ed.<br><br> P. Geach [Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1991), p.<br><br> 53) and by further arguing that c 8assertion 9 . . .<br><br> carries moral weight, like 8property, 9 8right 9 and 8obligation. 9 It is a value-laden concept d (p. 65). It is, that is to say, among those cconcepts which are used to describe human actions in a way which makes it appear why our actions or omissions are bad if we act in certain ways, or fail to do so d (p.<br><br> 67). Note that the rule enjoining truth-telling in speech-acts of assertion is constitutive of language-use as such. It is a rule upon which therefore all interpreters of language-use by others cannot but rely.<br><br> And it is not merely a rule of this or that particular natural language. Hence Gormally concluded that about it cone cannot be culturally relativistic d (p. 58), in this following Peter Winch, who had argued that it would be cnonsense to call the norm of truth telling a 8social convention, 9 if by that were meant that there might be a human society in which it were not generally adhered to d ( cNature and Convention, d in Ethics and Action [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), pp.<br><br> 62-63). And David Lewis (who has also argued that in part our commitment to truthfulness in speech is a matter of convention, since ca language £ is used by a population P if and only if there prevails in P a convention of truthfulness and trust in j, sustained by an interest in communication, d cLanguages and Language, d in Philosophical Papers [Oxford: Oxford University Press, vol. 1, 1983), p.<br><br> 169) says about what he calls the cregularity of truthfulness and trust simpliciter d and characterizes as cthe regularity of being truthful and trusting in whichever language is used by one 9s fellows d that it cneither is a convention nor depends on convention d (p. 184). We stand, so all these writers agree, and surely [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 313 rightly, in the same relationship to speakers of other languages in respect of the semantic requirement of truthfulness in assertion as that in which we stand to other speakers of our own language, a relationship de%ned by the rules governing the use and interpretation of asserted sentences as such.<br><br> What then are these rules, if they are not not conventional? Winch 9s answer was framed in terms of the distinction that Aristotle drew between natural and conventional justice, by saying of the precepts of natural justice that they chave the same power everywhere and do not depend for it on being accepted or rejected d (Nicomachean Ethics V, 1134b19-20). This characterization of the natural holds equally of the semantic rule requiring truthfulness in assertion, which, like the precepts of natural justice, cannot but be accorded universal recognition, and in the vast majority of cases obedience, by the users of all natural languages.<br><br> In Aristotle 9s terms the generally tacit semantic rule enjoining truth-telling is to be accounted natural because recognition of it belongs to the essential nature of human beings as language users. We notice at once that liars cannot withhold recognition from it any more than the truthful can, and this not only because even habitual liars cannot but tell the truth far more often than they lie, sustained in their truth-telling by the interest in communication that, as Lewis emphasized, they share with everyone else. But liars have in addition their own distinctive interest in general conformity to that rule.<br><br> For they can only hope to lie successfully insofar as it is taken for granted by others that the rule requiring truthfulness in assertion is respected, more particularly by the liar herself or himself. The liar, as Kant put it, cannot consistently will that the maxim upon which she or he acts in lying should be, and should be understood to be, the universal rule governing truth-telling and lying. What successful lies achieve for those who utter them is an advantage with respect to information over those who are deceived.<br><br> And successful liars necessarily deceive us not only about the subject matter about which they lie, but also about their own beliefs and about their intention in asserting 314 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values what they assert falsely, and indeed about their further intention to conceal this intention from us. So that even in the simplest cases of lying there is a complexity in the liar that is absent from the truthful person. Truthful persons may have much to conceal, including their own intentions not to disclose what they are concealing.<br><br> But they do not misrepresent themselves to others as liars do, with regard to the relationship of their beliefs and their intentions to their assertions. The kinds of advantage to be gained by lying are of course various and so therefore are the motives for lying. Many lies, as I noticed earlier, are protective, motivated by a fear of harm at the hands of others.<br><br> Some are acts of aggression, motivated by a wish to damage others. Some are intended to maximize advantage in competitive situations. Some lies are acts of )attery and some are intended to make the speaker appear more interesting than he or she in fact is.<br><br> Some lies are told by of'ce-holders from devotion to what is taken to be the public interest and some are told both to and by of'ce-holders to subvert that interest. But in each of these different types of case, if a lie has been successful, it may well be that the liar will have altered the relationships of power in her or his own favor, or, perhaps, on occasion in favor of someone else. Yet in so doing, whether the lie is successful or not, the liar will also have altered her or his relationship to others in general, by deliberately violating the norm presupposed in all human relationships involving assertive speech-acts.<br><br> She or he will have relied upon the general human regard for truth, while failing to have regard for it. cWithout truth, d Kant wrote, csocial intercourse and conversation become valueless d (Eine Vorlesung Kant 9s %ber Ethik, ed. P.<br><br> Menzer, p. 285, trans. L.<br><br> In'eld, Lectures on Ethics [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1980), p. 224). And the offense of the liar, thus understood, is not a matter of the harmful consequences of particular lies.<br><br> To tell a lie is wrong as such, just because it is a couting of truth, and it is an offense primarily not against those particular others to whom this particular lie has been told, but against human rationality, everyone 9s rationality, including the liar 9s own rationality. By lying she or he has [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 315 failed not only to acknowledge truth as a good that is indispensable in rational relationships with others, but also to recognize that a failure to respect truth is a failure in respecting oneself as a rational being. This conception of the wrongness of lying was elaborated within a moral tradition whose central theses were in crucial respects at odds with those of the tradition that I described earlier.<br><br> For where the exponents of that tradition, from Clement to John Stuart Mill, had agreed on the need to exempt certain types of lie from the general prohibition of lying, the adherents of the tradition of which Kant was a late and distinguished member agreed in insisting that the rule prohibiting lying was exceptionless. Instead of looking back to Plato, its protagonists look back to Aristotle 9s condemnation of all lying as disgraceful and to his praise of the lover of truth who is truthful whether something further is at stake or not (Nicomachean Ethics IV, 1127b4-8). There are trenchant restatements of this standpoint by St.<br><br> Augustine, by St. Thomas Aquinas, by the Catechism of the Council of Trent, by Pascal, and by Protestant theologians both before and after Kant. Augustine declared in the Contra M endacium (31C) that cit is said to God 8Your law is truth. 9 And for this reason what is contrary to truth cannot be just.<br><br> But who doubts that every lie is contrary to truth? Therefore no lie can be just. d Aquinas argued that truth itself is a virtue, since to say what is true makes a good act and a virtue is that which makes its possessor good and renders its possessor 9s action good (Summa Theologiae IIa-IIae, 109, 1). Of the vices opposed to the virtue of truth lying is the 'rst (110, prologue).<br><br> Aquinas captured a thought central to this tradition when he distinguished between the wrong done by intentionally asserting what is false and the wrong done by intentionally deceiving someone by that false assertion. Even without an intention to deceive, the intentional assertion of what is false is wrong (110, 1 resp. and 3 ad.<br><br> 6). The offense is against truth. Some adherents of these two contrasting and generally rival traditions may in fact disagree about very little of moral substance.<br><br> 316 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values For among some of those for whom lying is altogether prohibited, the de'nition of a lie is such as to exclude just those cases that some adherents of the other tradition treat as permissible or required lies. But it would be a mistake to conclude from these cases that the differences between the two traditions are unimportant, as Newman seems to have done. Those differences extend to three kinds of issue.<br><br> First there is the question of how a lie is to be de'ned. Those for whom some types of lie are permissible or even required characteristically de'ne a lie so that an intention to deceive is an essential de'ning property of a lie, and the wrongness of lies is the same as that of other acts of deception, while those for whom no lies are permissible characteristically de'ne a lie in terms of an intention to assert what is false, sometimes, like Aquinas, denying that an intention to deceive is necessary for an assertion to be a lie. A second difference concerns the nature of the offense committed by a liar.<br><br> For those for whom some types of lie are permissible or even required the wrong done by a lie is understood in terms of the harm in)icted upon those social relationships that need to be sustained by mutual truth and credibility. Because of the constitutive part played by such trust in every important human relationship, that harm is never held to be entirely negligible. But evidently there are occasions on which the utterance of a particular lie will prevent some harm greater than that which its telling will cause to the social fabric.<br><br> By contrast, for those for whom no lie is permissible the wrong committed by making a false assertion is understood as a type of wrong that inescapably puts in question one 9s standing as a rational person in relationship to other rational persons. A third set of issues concerns the kind of justi'catory argument advanced within each tradition. Those who hold that some types of lie are permissible advance justi'cations that cite the effects of different types of lie, even when those who advance them are not consequentialists in general.<br><br> Those who hold that all lies are forbidden advance justi'cations citing the nature of the act of lying. And at [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 317 this point the self-de'nition of each of these two rival traditions makes something plain that has been insuf'ciently remarked within either tradition. There are, so I argued, two distinct grounds for our concerns about truth-telling and lying: one deriving from the invariant semantic rule governing the utterance of assertions and one from our varying evaluations of the motives for and the effects of the utterance of different types of lie.<br><br> Re)ection upon the 'rst of these focuses attention upon lying as an offense against truth, as an error-engendering misuse of assertion, while re)ection upon the second focuses attention upon lying as an offense against credibility and trust, as having effects that tend to be destructive of relationships between persons. And each of the two rival moral traditions that I identi'ed has developed a line of argument well designed to uphold the claims upon our allegiance of its formulation of what it takes to be the moral rule concerning truth-telling and lying. In this case at least two moral traditions seem to be one too many.<br><br> In answer to such questions as cWhat should be our socially established rule about truth-telling and lying? d cWhat should we teach our children? d cAnd how should we justify rationally what we teach them? d we are presented with two incompatible and rival types of rule and two incompatible and rival types of justi'catory argument. At the same time we cannot but recognize the compelling and insightful character of central considerations advanced from each side. The problem is therefore not simply that of 'nding suf'cient reasons for choosing to align ourselves with one standpoint or the other.<br><br> It is rather that we need, if at all possible, to 'nd some rationally justi'able framework within which the concerns articulated within both traditions can be integrated in such a way as to provide a single set of answers to those questions. This then, in outline at least, is the problem. In what direction should we turn in search of a solution?<br><br> One obvious suggestion would be 'rst to examine the practice of one or more other cultures with a somewhat different moral tradition concerning truthfulness: for example, 318 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values Confucianism with its conception of appropriate speech and of the virtue of hsin. And in the larger enquiry of which these lectures are a part this will be a necessary undertaking. But an important preliminary is to understand a good deal better just what it is that we ourselves need here and now and why.<br><br> What is the moral condition of the culture now dominant in North America in respect of truth-telling and lying? II Three features of that culture are relevant and notable: the nature and extent of disagreement about what the rule concerning lying should be, the frequency of lying of a variety of kinds, and the nature of the underlying dilemmas that make that disagreement and that frequency intelligible, at least in part. Consider each of these in turn.<br><br> Discussion, sometimes in depth, with a number of different American groups in the last ten years has convinced me that the only shared near universal agreement is on the form that any acceptable rule concerning lying and truth telling should take. That form is cNever tell a lie d 4 this part of the rule is generally enunciated 'rmly and clearly, especially to children 4 dexcept when d 4 here the voice begins to drop 4 and there then follows a list of types of exception, culminating with an cetc. d That list includes most often cwhen by lying one will save an innocent human life, d almost as often cwhen by lying one will avoid offending someone, d and quite tolerably often cwhen by lying one will secure advantage in one 9s career or to one 9s 'nancial prospects. d At one end of a spectrum there are those Americans who hold that one ought never to tell a lie; at the other those who regard themselves as free to misrepresent their own past or the truth about others in trivial anecdotal gossip as readily as on occasions when something important is at stake. [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 319 We have then a 'rst set of wide-ranging disagreements not only about what excepting clauses should be included in the list, but also about how these should be understood to apply.<br><br> To what classes of person may we avoid giving offense by telling a lie? Is untruthful gossip only permissible when it could not damage anyone, or are there people whose reputations need not matter to us? May I secure advantage to my career only by lying about what I, but not others, take to be irrelevant considerations or may I misrepresent what everyone would agree to be relevant?<br><br> A range of different answers to questions such as these is expressed not only by what people say about lying, but also by how and when they lie. That this is so makes the facts about the incidence of certain types of lying a little less surprising than they might otherwise be. What then are those facts?<br><br> Bella DePaulo, a University of Virginia psychologist who studied lying by having her subjects keep a diary recording the lies that they told, concluded from her study that cPeople tell about two lies a day, or at least that is how many they will admit to d (New York Times, February 12, 1985, p. 17). James Patterson and Peter Kim, whose expertise is in research for advertising, reported in 1991 that 91 percent of Americans lie regularly, that only 45 percent refrain from lying on occasion because they think it wrong, and that those who do lie lie most to friends and relatives (The Day America Told the Truth [New York: Prentice-Hall)).<br><br> They also found that a distinction was made between more and less serious lies and that 36 percent admitted to serious lies. Dan McCabe of Rutgers University found that 57 percent of business students would admit to having cheated on an examination at least once (Harpers Index, September 1991), while in an earlier Psychology Today study the percentage of students who admitted to being willing to cheat on examinations or other test assignments, if they judged that they could get away with it, was 67 percent (James Hassett, Psychology Today, November 1981). Unsurprisingly, those who lie commonly also believe that others lie to them.<br><br> So Patterson and Kim found that 31 percent of their subjects 320 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values believed that they had at some time been lied to by their physicians, 34 percent believed this of their accountants, and 42 percent of their lawyers. American lawyers are of course professionally divided about lying; some have held that a defense lawyer who knows that a client is committing perjury in court has a duty to use that perjury to secure acquittal, if she or he can; others have denied that this is so. And such divisions occur in a number of professions.<br><br> But the division both in private life and in the professions is not just one between different individuals. It is also one within many individuals. The extent to which it is within and not only between individuals can be gauged by the extent of the unhappiness about their own lying that signi'cant proportions of those who nonetheless regularly lie evince.<br><br> They evince that unhappiness in a variety of ways. To a signi'cant extent they report that they feel uncomfortable when they lie. They betray their anxiety, when they are put to the question about their lies, by systematically failing polygraph tests, in this being quite unlike those Eastern Europeans cited by Richard Helms, cwho could defeat the polygraph at any time, d because they had spent their lives clying about one thing or another and therefore become so good at it d (investigation of the Assassination of President John F.<br><br> Kennedy, vol. 4, pp. 98-99, 118, cited in John Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the C.I.A.<br><br> [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), pp. 568-69). These are the same people described by Erazim Kohak as having developed under Communist regimes an inability to admit to the differences between illusion and reality.<br><br> cA factory manager, seeing the collapse around him, yet reporting in)ated production 'gures to assure premiums for his factory, could not believe, but neither could he just lie. Instead he would refuse to acknowledge the distinction. d And so after communism this refusal persists. cThough there is no one to deceive, deception has become a habit d ( cAshes, Ashes .<br><br> . . Central Europe after Forty Years, d Daedalus 121, no.<br><br> 2 [1992), 203; for systematic understanding of the function of lying in the Soviet Union itself, the indispensable works are by Alexander Zinoviev, both the novel Yawning Heights [New York: [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 321 Random House, 1979) and Homo Sovieticus [London: Gollancz, 1985)). But this is not at all how contemporary Americans are. They seem to recognize what they are doing, while lying, and are often far from satis'ed with their own justi'cations for lying.<br><br> This unhappiness is perhaps one cause of those oscillations and inconsistencies in responding to discovered lies that mark so much of American life, directing our attention to further dimensions of those divisions about lying, both between groups and individuals and within groups and individuals, on which I have already remarked. Those oscillations and inconsistencies are most obvious in political life. The lies of Richard Nixon and Oliver North incurred instant and extreme obloquy, the lies of a Lyndon Johnson about Vietnam or of a James Baker about relationships with the government of China much less (on Lyndon Johnson, see the Chicago Tribune, October 20, 1991, p.<br><br> 4-i; on James Baker, see Hodding Carter III, cViewpoint, d Wall Street Journal, January 25, 1990, p. A15). Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who had proposed to the Kennedy administration that clies should be told by subordinate of'cials, d so that they and not the president would take the blame, if discovered (Peter Wyden, Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), p.<br><br> 161), has since been among the most vehement denouncers of lies told by subordinate of'cials to protect presidents. And public blame for lying is in general unevenly and haphazardly distributed. What does such unevenness and inconsistency reveal concerning the range of disagreement about lying over and above disagreements as to what types of items should be excepted from the general prohibition?<br><br> They are of two related kinds. There is 'rst a set of disagreements about which types of lie are to be treated as more serious and which as less serious offenses, and within each category how different types of lie are to be ranked. If I lie to the police about the whereabouts of my friend, who has )ed from the scene of an unreported automobile accident, is this better or worse than lying to my friend about my part 322 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values in wrecking his car?<br><br> If I lie to my wife about having lost my job, is this better or worse than lying to my employer in order to keep that job? Yet it is not only that we do not agree on the gravity of the offenses committed by different kinds of liar. It is also that we do not agree upon how to respond to different kinds of lie, when someone 9s lies are discovered and we are the offended party.<br><br> If a lie concerns some relatively trivial matter, should we just ignore it or is this to treat lying as acceptable? If a lie is a serious breach of trust, should we break off all relationships with the liar? Ought we to make the fact of such lying public in order to warn others?<br><br> Should a lie of a certain gravity disqualify a liar from public of'ce or from friendship? And if we ourselves are discovered in a lie, what do we have to do to merit forgiveness? There seems to be no consensus on how these questions are to be answered.<br><br> Not all North Americans belong to the dominant culture that is in such a peculiar condition in respect to lying and truth-telling. Orthodox Jews, conservative Roman Catholics, some Southern Baptists, and devoted Confucian Chinese families provide examples of minorities that advance systematic and unambiguous answers to these and to kindred questions. But outside such minorities 4 minorities that are deviant with respect to the dominant North American culture, but nondeviant with respect to the larger history of humankind 4 the lack of consensus upon these issues is a sign of a remarkable absence.<br><br> The dominant culture fails to provide any generally accepted and agreed-upon public rule about truth-telling and lying, by appeal to which we could in relevant instances call each other to account. Why is this so? What do we need to understand about North Americans belonging to the dominant culture, if this absence and the divisions and disagreements that accompany it are to be intelligible?<br><br> The salient moral fact about such modern Americans is, so I want to suggest, this. They are brought up to give their allegiance to two distinct sets of norms. One of these enjoins each individual to pursue her or his own happiness, to learn how to be successful in competing [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 323 against others for position, power, and af)uence, to consume and to enjoy consumption, and to resist any invasion of her or his rights.<br><br> The other set instructs individuals to have regard for the welfare of others and for the general good, to respect the rights of others, to meet the needs of those who are especially deprived, and even to be prepared on some particular occasions to sacri'ce one 9s own immediate happiness for the sake of the happiness of particular others. On many occasions of course these two sets of norms are not in con)ict. But on others, and some of those among the more signi'cant in individual lives, Americans not only discover that such norms make rival and incompatible demands for their allegiance, but they also 'nd that they possess no third, higher-order set of norms that would enable them to make a rationally justi'able choice between those con)icting demands.<br><br> This moral situation is not of course con'ned to North America. It characterizes in varying degree all the cultures of advanced modernity. It was 'rst articulated in philosophical terms in the late nineteenth century by Henry Sidgwick in The Methods of Ethics, a text that in its foreshadowing of the subsequent history both of morality and of moral philosophy deserves to be accorded the status of a prophetic book.<br><br> Sidgwick had taken it to be a discovery of that distinctively modern moral philosophy that 'rst emerged in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England that there is not one single governing authority in moral matters, the role to which cReason d is assigned in most Greek moral philosophy, but two distinct authorities, cUniversal Reason and Egoistic Reason d (Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers [London: Macmillan, 1886), p. 198). The 'rst of these prescribes how it is reasonable to act if the general good and happiness is to be achieved, the second how it is reasonable to act if my own good and happiness is to be achieved.<br><br> Sidgwick took it to be his own philosophical discovery, after an extended study of the claims of Kantian, utilitarian, and intuitionist moral philosophy, that when the injunctions of these two kinds of practical reason con)ict, there is no rational method for deciding 324 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values between their claims or for reconciling them ( cConcluding Chapter d of The Methods of Ethics, 7th ed. [London: Macmillan, 1907]). Sidgwick 9s own treatment of what he spoke of as the duty to veracity consists chie)y of an examination of those convictions that belong to what he took to be cthe morality of Common Sense d (The Methods of Ethics III, chapter 7).<br><br> About veracity he concluded that among persons of common sense cthere is no real agreement as to how far we are bound to impart true beliefs to others d (p. 317), perhaps because such persons seem unable cto decide clearly whether truth-speaking is absolutely a duty, needing no further justi'cation: or whether it is merely a general right of each man to have truth spoken to him by his fellows, which right however may be forfeited or suspended under certain circumstances d (p. 315).<br><br> Summarizing common-sense beliefs about truthfulness, Sidgwick declares that it is commonly held that lawyers may be justi'ed in saying what they know to be false, if so instructed by their clients, that it is held by most persons that benevolently intended lies to invalids are justi'able, and, perhaps more surprisingly, that no one cshrinks from telling 'ctions to children on matters upon which it is thought well that they should not know the truth d (p. 316). Common sense offers us no principle by which we may decide systematically in these or other cases.<br><br> We have no alternative to cweighing the gain of any particular deception against the imperilment of mutual con'dence involved in all violation of truth d (p. 316). The metaphor of weighing invites Sidgwick 9s readers to ask: what are the scales?<br><br> And it turns out that, for the reasons that I have already cited, Sidgwick can in the end only offer us two alternative sets of scales, which will provide us with different measures of weight, that of Universal Reason, appealing impersonally to the standard of the greatest happiness of the greatest number, and that of Egoistic Reason, by whose standard my happiness outweighs that of everyone else. Beyond these there is no third and higher [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 325 standard of practical reason to decide on each par ` ticular occasion which of these two rivals it is to whose verdict we should attend. Sidgwick 9s philosophical analysis con'rms what the reports by sociologists and social psychologists on contemporary North American moral culture already suggested, that no formulation of a rule concerning truth-telling and lying and no account of the virtue of truthfulness will meet our contemporary needs, unless they overcome that moral dualism that seems* to debar so many from the possibility of ordering within a single rational scheme their selfregarding reasons for action and those reasons that have regard either for particular others or for the general good.<br><br> So it is not just that we need to integrate the insights and concerns of the two rival moral traditions concerning truth-telling and lying. We have to impose a further condition, that this integration provide a rational ordering of the relevant types of reason for action. The satisfaction of these two major conditions requires of course more and other than the provision of a more adequate philosophical theory.<br><br> What is needed is the identi'cation of some mode of institutionalized social practice within which generally established norms and re)ective habits of judgment and action could sustain a coherent and rationally justi'able allegiance to a rule concerning truth-telling and lying in a way and to a degree very different from the present dominant culture. And this is a large undertaking. But a more adequate philosophical theory would be at least a 'rst step.<br><br> How then should we proceed in attempting to develop such a theory? We might begin by asking whether there is not more for us to learn from the most distinguished modern philosophical representatives of the two rival traditions, J. S.<br><br> Mill and Immanuel Kant, than Sidgwick supposed. Sidgwick after all concerned himself with lying and truth-telling only incidentally and his treatment of both Kant and Mill was restricted in scope. We not only have the bene't of what can be learned from later interpreters and more adequate editions, but we are able to bring to our reading of Kant and Mill 326 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values questions that go beyond Sidgwick 9s, in part because of what we have learned from Sidgwick.<br><br> So in order to move for ` ward, we should 'rst turn back, noting as we do not only that truthfulness was a topic of continuing philosophical concern for both Kant and Mill and but also that both Kant and Mill cared deeply about truthfulness. I might have begun this enquiry with either thinker, but Mill is perhaps somewhat closer to us, not just chronologically but in his hopes and fears for the culture. So it is to Mill that I turn 'rst.<br><br> III In the second chapter of Utilitarianism Mill attempted to dispel misunderstandings of the Greatest Happiness principle by defending it against a variety of accusations. Against the accusation that utilitarianism reduces morality to expediency Mill set out his account of truthfulness, arguing that inasmuch as the cultivation in ourselves of a sensitive feeling on the subject of veracity is one of the most useful, and the enfeeblement of that feeling one of the most hurtful, things to which our conduct can be instrumental; and inasmuch as any, even unintentional, deviation from truth, does that much towards weakening the trustworthiness of human assertion, which is not only the principal support of all present social well-being, but the insuf'ciency of which does more than any one thing that can be named to keep back civilization, virtue, everything on which human happiness on the largest scale depends; we feel that the violation, for a present advantage, of a rule of such transcendent expediency, is not expedient, and that he who for the sake of a convenience to himself or to some other individual, does what depends on him to deprive mankind of the good, and in)ict upon them the evil, involved in the greater or less reliance which they [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 327 can place in each other 9s word, acts the part of one of their worst enemies. Yet that even this rule, sacred as it is, admits of possible exceptions, is acknowledged by all moralists; the chief of which is when the withholding of some fact (as of information from a malefactor, or of bad news from a person dangerously ill) would save an individual (especially an individual other than oneself) from great and unmerited evil, and when the withholding can only be effected by denial..<br><br> This is in some respects a very plain statement. Mill is evidently a rule-utilitarian, prepared to allow only a very few types of exception to the prohibition of lying. He mentions only one such and he is careful to af'rm a stringent prohibition on all merely convenient lies.<br><br> And certainly if contemporary Americans were systematically to obey Mill 9s rule, ours would be a very different society. Mill did elsewhere consider the type of case in which the cost to some individual of telling the truth on a matter in which it is important not to lie is serious, perhaps mortal danger to herself or himself, and asserted that no general rule governs such cases, independently of circumstances (letter of February 9, 1867, to Henry S. Brandreth, in Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, vol.<br><br> 16: The Later Letters of John Stuart Mill 1849-1873, ed. F. E.<br><br> Mineka [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972), p. 1234). But the tone as well as the content of all Mill 9s remarks about lying place him, not too surprisingly, particularly if we remember how in)uenced he was by Coleridge, in the same moral tradition as Milton and Dr.<br><br> Johnson. As to the logical structure of the justi'cation of the rule that Mill formulates, matters at 'rst sight appear equally straightforward. The premises are: 'rst, that lying always weakens to some greater or lesser extent trustworthiness: second, that trustworthiness is the indispensable support of that upon which cpresent well-being d and ccivilization d and human happiness in general depend; and, third, that right action is action that promotes the general happiness, the greatest happiness of the greatest number.<br><br> Therefore lying is 328 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values (almost always) wrong. But questions arise about what Mill meant in af'rming the second and third premises of this argument. When Mill asserted in support of the second premise that both cpresent social well-being d and ccivilization d depend on trustworthiness, he might be thought by a casual reader to be advancing no more than a strongly worded version of a commonly reiterated warning that lying undermines credibility and that credibility is needed to sustain the social fabric.<br><br> Yet experience goes to show that the social fabric generally survives a good deal more lying than Mill would have allowed. As Harry Frankfurt has remarked, cThe actual quantity of lying is enormous after all, and yet social life goes on. That people often lie hardly renders it impossible to bene't from being with them.<br><br> It only means that we have to be careful d ( cThe Faintest Passion, d Presidential Address to the Eastern Division of the American. Philosophical Association, 1991, Proceedings and Addresses of the A.P.A. 66, no.<br><br> 3 [November 1992), 6). So that if this is all that Mill meant, his second premise is false and his argument fails. But this is not what Mill meant.<br><br> For, when Mill used the word ccivilization, d he did not use it lightly. The words Mill uses when he speaks elsewhere of those whom he took to be uncivilized are cbarbarians d or csavages, d and barbarians need the rule of a benevolent despot, not the doctrines of On Liberty (On Liberty, chapter 1) or the moral rules that are the counterparts of those doctrines. Among those not yet civilized Mill took lying to be endemic.<br><br> In the essay cOn Nature d ( Collected Works, vol. 10: Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society, ed. J.<br><br> M. Robson [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969)) Mill considered whether it was right to think of truthfulness as natural to human beings, since cin the absence of motives to the contrary, speech usually conforms to, or at least does not intentionally deviate from, fact, d but against this he cites what he takes to be the case, that csavages are always liars d (p. 395).<br><br> Moreover, the same holds of the inhabitants of cthe whole East and the greater part of Europe d and even in England [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 329 it is only a small minority 4 cthe higher classes, d as he says elsewhere 4 who make it a point of honor to respect truth for truth 9s sake. Habitual lying is, Mill believed, a consequence of cthe natural state of those who were both uneducated and subjected. d It is ca vice of slaves. d (For one source of Mill 9s beliefs on this matter, see James Mill, The History of British India, 4th ed. [London: J.<br><br> Madden, 1848), Book II, chapter 7, p. 467: cThe Hindus are full of dissimulation and falsehood, the universal concomitants of oppression d). And it was, on his view, greatly to the credit of the contemporary English working class that, although they lied, they were ashamed of it (speech of July 8, 1865, during the Westminster Election, in Collected Works, vol.<br><br> 28: Public and Parliamentary Speeches, ed. J. M.<br><br> Robson and B. L. Kinzer [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), pp.<br><br> 35-36). A central political and educational problem then is that of how to transform those hitherto uneducated and subjected into the condition of that minority that does already respect truth for truth 9s sake. For a repudiation of lying is, on this view, an inseparable part of the rise of any social group from a condition of subjection and lack of education to one of liberty and a cultivated intelligence, both of them necessary for happiness.<br><br> When Mill speaks approvingly of those who respect truth for truth 9s sake, he is of course not contrasting them with those who respect truth for the sake of their own or general happiness. It is true that only happiness is, on Mill 9s view, desired for its own sake, but virtue is desired for its own sake precisely because it is, or rather has become, a part of happiness (Utilitarianism, chapter 4). Virtue is originally valued only as a means, but then, as a result of experience of the life of virtue, it comes to be valued also as an end.<br><br> We may therefore safely infer that truthfulness, as a virtue, is itself, on Mill 9s view, originally valued only as a means, but then also as an end. And the life of civilization is a life in which truthfulness has come to be so valued. So that when Mill, in the second premise of his argument in Utilitarianism, claims that a trustworthiness uncorrupted by lying is indispensable 330 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values not just for happiness and well-being, but for those conjoined with civilization, his use of the word ccivilization d should convey to us a conception of the general happiness to be aimed at in England in the mid-nineteenth century, one that is not adequately communicated by the philosophical treatment of happiness in Utilitarianism.<br><br> What then is an adequate conception of happiness 4 I mean not in the abstract and general terms of Utilitarianism, but in terms of those political, social, and personal goals that Mill set for himself and for others in his own time and place? And how, on Mill 9s view, can we come to have such a conception and communicate it effectively to others? Mill 9s answer to this second question was that such a conception could be acquired only by extended intellectual, moral, and emotional enquiry and education.<br><br> Such enquiry and education involves continuous conversation and debate with others, debate of a kind in which Mill himself had participated, both within utilitarian circles and in controversies between utilitarians and their critics. Exclusion from such debate is deeply injurious to moral education and cparticipation in political business d is cone of the means of national education, d helping to draw human beings out of cthe narrow bounds of individual and family sel'shness d that otherwise make them stupid, ill-informed, and sel'sh ( cThoughts on Parliamentary Reform, d 1859, in Collected Works, vol. 19: Essays on Politics and Society, ed.<br><br> J. M. Robson [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977), p.<br><br> 322). How is that education to be contrived? Mill took himself to have learned from Coleridge the importance of providing state support for an educated class, one that would in each locality provide moral and intellectual leadership and instruction ( cColeridge, d London and Westminster Review ).<br><br> Such an educated class, so Mill argued, had to have a special place in and in)uence upon both public debate and the activities of government, for one person is not as good as another d ( cThoughts on Parliamentary Reform, d p. 323). But our constitutional and electoral arrangements, while securing the in)uence of the better [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 331 educated, ought to be such that they become a means for general moral education, in order to remedy cthe mental and moral condition of the English working classes d (p.<br><br> 327). Hence Mill 9s disapproval of the secret ballot, which he took to promote a cowardly concealment of one 9s true views, and which he thought able to produce its intended effect conly at the cost of much lying d (p. 337).<br><br> It is then one of the tasks of moral education to construct forms of institutional debate in and through which, among other things, those who participate in them can be sustained in their truth-telling and transformed, if need be, from liars into truthful persons. Exclusion of those not yet thus educated from processes of political debate and decision debars them damagingly 4 damagingly for others as well as for themselves 4 from such education, but inclusion in those processes of debate must be such that they learn from those better educated. And the better educated themselves still need to learn from such debate.<br><br> For those who do not participate in debate can only have untested opinions, whether about happiness or anything else, and not genuine knowledge. That this is so was made clear by Mill in On Liberty, where he asserts that cno opinion deserves the name of knowledge d that has not emerged from can active controversy with opponents d and where he treats the Socratic mode of dialectic and even the medieval disputation as models for a type of institutionalized controversy much needed in his own time, but no longer provided. Without such controversy there can therefore be no knowledge concerning that happiness that is the end of right action.<br><br> Infringements of liberty of thought and discussion are to be condemned precisely because liberty is necessary, if such forms of debate are to arrive at truth. But debate will also presumably require protection from violation by those types of act that Mill takes to be c't objects of moral reprobation, and in grave cases, of moral retribution and punishment, d a class that includes acts of cfalsehood or duplicity d in dealing with others. So the rule requiring truthfulness will be among those rules to which conformity is necessary as a means for securing the kind of controversy in debate and enquiry from which 332 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values there can emerge a true and adequate account of human happiness as an end and of the part to be played by truthfulness in any life answering to that account.<br><br> What Mill called the ctrustworthiness of human assertion d will have to be, on his view, if I have construed it rightly, 'rst recognized as a necessary means to, and then as an essential constituent of, both my own happiness and the general happiness. What I have identi'ed as the second premise in Mill 9s argument for the justi'cation of lying is then something more and other than a general claim that the social fabric is somehow endangered by lying. It is the much stronger, and also the much more interesting, claim that what Mill meant by civilization, a type of social order constituted as a project of moral education through political and moral conversation and debate, requires a stringent and very widely respected rule prohibiting (almost all) lying.<br><br> A civilized social order is one collectively and cooperatively concerned to understand the truth about human beings and nature, and the violation of truthfulness is injurious to the project of such a social order for the same reason and in the same way that a violation of truthfulness in reporting data is injurious to the sciences. Truthfulness in both cases is not just a useful and necessary means to, but is constitutive of the ends pursued. In saying this I may have gone a little, although only a little, beyond what Mill himself actually asserts.<br><br> But, if this is the direction in which Mill 9s argument points us, we need to go even further. Mill in his statement of the rule about lying in Utilitarianism identi'ed lying as an offense against trustworthiness. But the argument that I have developed out of his writings requires us not only to identify it also as an offense against truth, but also to understand the relationship between these two aspects of truthfulness in a particular way.<br><br> It is not trustworthiness in general that is crucial to our well-being as actual or aspiring members of a civilized social order, characterized as Mill characterized it, but the peculiar kind [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 333 of trustworthiness that is required of those who are participants in a particular kind of social enterprise, who are collectively and cooperatively engaged in seeking through shared enquiry the truth about their present condition and their future good, as an essential part of the project of moving from their present condition toward the achievement of that good. Truth is the good internal to rational enquiry and the kind of trustworthiness required from each other by those who participate in enquiry includes an unfailing regard for truth and for truthfulness. So it is with those who are engaged cooperatively in the investigations of the natural sciences or the researches of historians or anthropologists.<br><br> And insofar as the moral life is a life of communal enquiry 4 to say this is not to deny that it is also a number of other things 4 the kind of trust that those who engage in it have to repose in each other must therefore include mutual trust in respect of a shared regard for a norm of truth that has to be exceptionless, for the same reasons that the norm governing truth-telling in scienti'c and other research communities has to be exceptionless. But in reaching this conclusion I have, by following a line of argument developed by Mill, arrived at conclusions that are obviously at odds with Mill 9s own. In the passage from Utilitarianism from which I began Mill identi'ed at least two kinds of exception to the rule prohibiting lying, and he justi'ed those exceptions by suggesting that on certain types of occasions the consequences of telling particular lies for the happiness or unhappiness of particular individuals were such as to outweigh any detriment to the general good.<br><br> But how can this be reconciled with the claims that I have just made for an exceptionless rule, one necessary for us to arrive at an adequate conception of happiness? A 'rst response may well be that it cannot be so reconciled, and that, if the line of argument that I have developed out of certain of Mill 9s texts is really there, then there are to be found in Mill strains of thought that are in serious tension with each other, something that a number of commentators have discerned. But a second response might run as follows.<br><br> 334 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values Of the two kinds of exception allowed by Mill in Utilitarianism one is a matter of the withholding of information from those who would be harmed by it, the other of the prevention of serious harm intended by malefactors. About the former we should note that there are ways of withholding information other than lying and that, if we take systematic precautions in advance, as it is our duty to do, lying generally becomes unnecessary. If it does seem to have become necessary, this is perhaps to be taken as evidence of our own or someone else 9s lack of wit, ingenuity, and foresight, itself an important kind of moral failure.<br><br> So we can perhaps agree with Mill about the need on rare types of occasions to withhold information, without agreeing that this provides any good reason for rejecting the authority of an exceptionless rule. Moreover, we thereby signify that those whom we are thus protecting, whoever they may be, still remain our partners in the enterprises of the moral life, and therefore persons to whom we may not tell lies. The symbolic importance of upholding this rule universally without exceptions as to persons is not to be underestimated.<br><br> What then are we to say about the other class of exception, the type of lie told in order to avert grave harm intended by malefactors? The exceptionless rule requiring truthfulness, just because the moral life is one for which truth is a supreme value, binds the members of the moral community in general as rational persons, just as the analogous rule binds the members of the scienti'c community in particular. It is a norm de'ning the relationship of the members of those types of community with each other.<br><br> But what if someone constitutes herself or himself a deliberate enemy of moral community and not just of particular persons, as someone, for example, bent on murder does? In such situations does the same rule bind us? If so, why?<br><br> If not, why not? These questions were already raised for us by Samuel Johnson. But the most important, as well as the most notorious, discussion of how to answer them is of course by Kant.<br><br> [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 335 IV At 'rst sight and on a conventional reading no two moral philosophers are more sharply at odds concerning truth-telling and lying than are Mill and Kant. Mill held that some lies are not only morally permitted, but morally required, while Kant held that all lying is prohibited. In Utilitarianism at least Mill 9s justi'cations, both of his formulation of the rule generally prohibiting lying and of his statement of the types of exception to that rule, are con ` sequentialist, while Kant rejects consequentialist justi'cations and grounds the rule prohibiting lying in the rational nature of human beings.<br><br> But perhaps this opposition is not as unquali'ed as conventional readings have made it. I have already suggested that, when Mill re)ected on the requirements that must be met, if political and social relationships were to become rational, he moved much closer to an unquali'ed condemnation of untruthfulness than, on a conventional reading, we might have expected. And, since Mill 9s concerns about rationality bring him very close to what were also central concerns of Kant, it is worth asking whether there may not be respects in which their undeniably antagonistic views may nonetheless be understood as contributing to a common enterprise.<br><br> Yet if we are to do so in a way that also does justice to their dis ` agreements, we should begin our discussion of Kant in those areas in which that difference is most evident. I have distinguished two rival moral traditions with respect to truth-telling and lying, one for which a lie is primarily an offense against trust and one for which it is primarily an offense against truth. For adherents of the former tradition unjusti'ed deception is what offends against trust and unjusti'ed lies are a species of unjusti'ed deception.<br><br> For such persons it therefore generally makes no signi'cant moral difference whether or not a deception is carried out by means of a lie or otherwise. If it is a justi'ed deception, then 336 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values that it was carried out by lying will not make it any less justi'ed. If it was an unjusti'ed deception, it will be none the worse for having been carried out by a lie.<br><br> But for adherents of the rival tradition no lie can ever be justi'ed, although some de ` ceptions may be. Hence the importance within this rival tradition of anecdotal teaching about the moral praiseworthiness of the ingenuity of those who succeed in some justi'ed act of deception without committing the wrong of lying. A signal example is that of St.<br><br> Athanasius. Persecutors, dispatched by the emperor Julian, were pursuing him up the Nile. They came on him traveling downstream, failed to recognize him, and enquired of him: cIs Athanasius close at hand? d He replied: cHe is not far from here. d The persecutors hurried on and Athanasius thus successfully evaded them without telling a lie (see F.<br><br> A. M. Forbes, St.<br><br> Athanasius [London: R. and T. Washbourne, 1919), p.<br><br> 102). Whether one thinks this a pointless anecdote or not reveals something fundamental about one 9s attitude to lying. Kant 9s attitude appears in an anecdote that he told about himself.<br><br> When in 1794 Kant was required by King Friedrich Wilhelm II, shortly before the latter 9s death, to refrain from any distortion or depreciation of Christianity, he knew that if he made public anything further of his thoughts on religion, as he had hoped to do, he would be held guilty of just such distortion or depreciation, perhaps with baneful consequences. He therefore responded by making a declaration cas your Majesty 9s faithful sub ject, that I shall in future completely desist from all public lectures or papers concerning religion, be it natural or revealed. d The Prussian censors and, if it was reported to him, the king himself would have understood Kant to be saying that he would never so publish. But that is not of course what Kant had in fact declared As he later pointed out, his pledge to desist was made only cas your Majesty 9s faithful subject, d a status that Kant would lose when this particular king died.<br><br> cThis phrase, d wrote Kant in recounting the story (in the preface to The [M AC I NTYRE ] Truthfulness, Lies, and Moral Philosophers 337 Quarrel between the Faculties), after the king 9s death in 1797, c. . .<br><br> was chosen by me most carefully, s