Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


Poddiakov A.N. Lie to a malefactor about a victim’s location, and polemics on the moral principle of truthfulness

Full text in Russian: Поддьяков А.Н. Ложь злоумышленнику о местонахождении жертвы и полемика о нравственном принципе правдивости
State University – Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

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Russian researchers’ polemics on Kant’s essay “On a supposed right to tell lies from benevolent motives” in which Kant argues that if a malefactor (a murderer) who is going to kill a person’s friend asks that person where one’s friend is, the morality requires to tell the truth. It is proved in the paper that though Kantians are usually considered as “absolutists” and their opponents – as “relativists”, the Kantians perform a large-scale relativization of maxim of truthfulness and exhibit more conformity to lie than the “relativisits” do. Paradoxes “A Precious Friend” and “Kant’s Generalized Consequence for Many Friends” showing inconsistency and contradictoriness of Kantians’ point of view are introduced. The confrontation of “absolutists” and “relativists” is interpreted as a fundamental opposition of reductionism and holism followers, with understanding that in this case the opposition is many times strengthened by confrontation of moral values.

Keywords: Kant, lie, deception, truthfulness principle, ethics, moral absolutization and relativization, holism, reductionism


The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Humanities, project 10-06-00322a.

Cyrillic letters are transliterated according to BSI standards. The titles are given in author’s translation [in square brackets].

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Received 18 December 2009. Available online 14 February 2010.

About author

Poddiakov Alexander N. Ph.D., Professor, Faculty of Psychology, State University – Higher School of Economics, ul. Myasnitskaya, 20, 101000 Moscow, Russia.
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APA Style

Poddiakov, A. N. (2010). Lie to a malefactor about a victim’s location, and polemics on the moral principle of truthfulness. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 1(9). Retrieved from 0421000116/0001. [in Russian, abstr. in English].

Russian State Standard GOST P 7.0.5-2008
Poddiakov A.N. Lie to a malefactor about a victim’s location, and polemics on the moral principle of truthfulness [Electronic resource] // Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya. 2010. N 1(9). URL: (date of access: 0421000116/0001. [in Russian, abstr. in English]

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