Journal of Religious Ethics 49 (1):6-32 (2021)

Stewart Clem
Aquinas Institute of Theology
Moral philosophers and theologians have long debated the classic moral dilemma of lying to an intruder in order to save a refugee. This dilemma presents an especially difficult challenge to those who reject consequentialist reasoning. Many contemporary defenders of Thomas Aquinas have argued that lying is never permissible under any circumstances, but none has offered a satisfactory answer to the question of what one ought to do when facing such a dilemma. I argue that there can be no morally satisfying answer to this question, because every possible action will involve some degree of sin, even if lying is the least sinful action. This should not lead us to redefine what it means to tell a lie, nor to say that lying to the intruder is a good or right action; rather, it should lead us to acknowledge the tragic dimension of life in a fallen world.
Keywords Aquinas  lying  truthfulness  virtue  justice  sin  moral dilemmas  Thomism
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DOI 10.1111/jore.12338
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References found in this work BETA

The Right to Lie: Kant on Dealing with Evil.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1986 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (4):325-349.
The Intent to Deceive.Roderick M. Chisholm & Thomas D. Feehan - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74 (3):143-159.
Consistency in Rationalist Moral Systems.Alan Donagan - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (6):291.
Moral Dilemmas.Alasdair McIntyre - 1990 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50:367-382.

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Citations of this work BETA

Dirty Hands, Supreme Emergencies, and Catholic Moral Theology.Evan Sandsmark - 2021 - Journal of Religious Ethics 49 (4):739-767.

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