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

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