Lying to a Dying Person
Webcast Q&A: Sunday, 27 November 2011, Question 4
I answered a question on lying to a dying person on Philosophy in Action Radio on 27 November 2011. You can listen to or download the podcast segment below – or check out the whole episode.
Is it wrong to lie to a person on their deathbed? Is lying in such cases justified so that the dying person can "go in peace"? For instance, a man might tell his fellow soldier dying on the battlefield that his heroism helped win a critical victory, even if it actually made no difference. Or a nurse might tell a dying mother desperate to make peace with her long-estranged daughter that the daughter called to tell her she loves her, even if that didn't happen. Is that wrong? If so, what's the harm?
My Answer, In Brief: Honesty is a virtue, even in dealings with a person dying. To die in peace means to die in harmony with the facts, not in a state of blissful ignorance or blind evasion.
- Duration: 9:55
- Download: MP3 Segment (3.4 MB)
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About Philosophy in Action Radio
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My dissertation defended moral responsibility and moral judgment against the doubts raised by Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer four meaty questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of practical importance.
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