Kant’s axe

2 minutes

Can a lie ever be noble? Why Kant believed even a life-saving fib was immoral

To the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, the ethics of honesty were clear-cut: telling the truth, no matter the consequences, was a ‘categorical imperative’ – a moral duty. Taking chilling (and chilly) inspiration from Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining (1980), this brief animated snippet details Kant’s inflexible perspective on truth-telling, and its contrast with utilitarianism, which emphasises good outcomes over actions that are always right or wrong.

Video by BBC Radio 4

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animation: Andrew Park

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter Sign up
Follow us on
Facebook
Like
Essay/
Consciousness & Altered States
Caves all the way down

Do psychedelics give access to a universal, mystical experience of reality, or is that just a culture-bound illusion?

Jules Evans

Essay/
Ethics
Life on the slippery Earth

Aztec moral philosophy has profound differences from the Greek tradition, not least its acceptance that nobody is perfect

Sebastian Purcell