The Meta-Ethical Issue of the Nature of Lying: Implications for Moral Education

Publication Title

Studies in Philosophy and Education

Publication Date


Document Type





falsehood, honesty, intentional deception, lying, meta-ethics, moral education, truth-telling


Ethics and Political Philosophy | Philosophy


I argue that lying has many dimensions, hence, some putative cases of lying may not match our intuitions or accepted meanings of lying. The moral lesson we should teach must be that lying is not a simple principle or feature, but a cluster of features or spectrum of shades, where anything in the spectrum or cluster is considered lying. I argue that the view regarding lying as a single principle or feature has problematic meta-ethical implications. I do a meta-ethical analysis of the meaning of lying, not only to indicate such problems, but also the need to teach the act of rational discussion and meta-ethical analysis. I argue that the process of meta-ethical analysis and rational discussion should be part of moral education, in that it may help to develop critical thought about the ability and practice of making good and rational moral judgments.