A Lie Is a Lie: The Ethics of Lying in Business Negotiations

Business Ethics Quarterly 32 (4):604-634 (2022)
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Abstract

I argue that lying in business negotiations is pro tanto wrong and no less wrong than lying in other contexts. First, I assert that lying in general is pro tanto wrong. Then, I examine and refute five arguments to the effect that lying in a business context is less wrong than lying in other contexts. The common thought behind these arguments—based on consent, self-defence, the “greater good,” fiduciary duty, and practicality—is that the particular circumstances which are characteristic of business negotiations are such that the wrongness of lying is either mitigated or eliminated completely. I argue that all these “special exemption” arguments fail. I conclude that, in the absence of a credible argument to the contrary, the same moral constraints must apply to lying in business negotiations as apply to lying in other contexts. Furthermore, I show that for the negotiator, there are real practical benefits from not lying.

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Citations of this work

Spoof, Bluff, Go For It: A Defence of Spoofing.Kasim Khorasanee - 2024 - Journal of Business Ethics 189 (1):201-215.

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References found in this work

Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Two kinds of respect.Stephen L. Darwall - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):36-49.
On Bullshit.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1986 - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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