I'm trying to discuss the ethics of someone lying on their CV to get a job.

The company does not have the legal right to ask a certain question but the applicant is forced to answer. He decides to lie and gets the job.

Is there a term for, or work that applies to these situations, for example robbing someone who stole from you?

  • 1
    This is actually an essay on Gattaca where the main character falsies illegal DNA tests to get a job. (simplified for simplicity and to generalise the answer)
    – PStag
    Dec 24 '16 at 11:12

From a utilitarian standpoint lying is not wrong in and of itself. It can be justified as morally acceptable if the greatest good for the greatest number of people produced by promulgating an untruthful statement outweighs the bad (i.e. living in a society where information is unreliable).

It is a difficult argument, from the utilitarian standpoint, for a person contemplating lying on a CV to justify that his or her obtaining a job is a greater overall good than someone else obtaining the position. In fact, someone arguing the counterpoint that the liar would most likely do more harm in the position than the truthful person would have a much stronger utilitarian argument.

Actually any arguments based on the good of one (especially oneself) are very easy to argue against in a utilitarian framework.

  • This highlights one of the problems of utilitarian as an ethical theory. When you are doing the calculation for every action, there won't be any clear guidelines. For this reason, most contemporary consequentialists do it as a meta-ethical theory and use this to make rules that apply to types of behaviors.
    – virmaior
    Dec 25 '16 at 6:07
  • @virmaior But isn't the point of a utilitarian to maximize happiness (or love, etc.)? That seems like a pretty clear guideline to me.
    – APCoding
    Dec 25 '16 at 21:20
  • I'm not quite following how that's a comment on my comment, but if you have a consequentialist ethical theory, then you need to for any action be able to calculate the consequences of that action on whatever you want to minimize or maximize. applied to this answer, you would need to for any case of lying on the CV figure out whether that produces more happiness than not lying on that particular CV or not. To solve this, most consequentalists propose their theory as a meta-ethical theory -- in other words, we resolve on the average whether allowing such lies would produce more happiness, etc.
    – virmaior
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:34
  • and then on the basis of this, we decide whether to include a moral rule to that effect. / otherwise, we are mired in complex epistemic problems for every single action.
    – virmaior
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:35

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