Is Lying Ever Morally Permissible

in your reading, Kwasi Wiredu described how stories have been used as a scare tactic to keep children and the weak-minded in line. One example

he uses is Akan parents telling their children not to sing while bathing; otherwise, their mother will die. (Wiredu says this is for the

child’s well-being so that he or she did not accidentally drink the dirty water and possibly get sick.)

Is it morally reasonable to mislead or lie to a child for his or her own well-being? Is this sort of parental behavior a necessary “tool” for guiding a child to do the right thing until he or she can figure out what is right or wrong on his or her own?

Many cultures use the idea of Santa Claus making a list of who is naughty/nice as a way to manage the behaviors of children (because those children on the “nice list” receive presents). Do you feel that this parental behavior is morally reasonable?

The reading below is from the specific ethical perspective of the Akan. This reading will give you a foundation for understanding African ethical perspectives.

Good and Evil, pgs. 159-175 (odd numbered pages only) in the book Listening to Ourselves: A Multilingual Anthology of African Philosophy


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