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I heard about Kant's reasoning that lying that you return money or about the leads to contradiction in conception.

But how could he even prove that lying under any circumstances leads to contradiction in conception?

My example:

Let us assume some kind of soft extortionists. They threaten people to give them money but only if people have them. But they do not check if it is true since they are afraid of consequences (it can even result in murder and/or imprisonment).

Now let's assume that all people lie to them that they do not have money. Since they all lie, extortionists do no get money. Even if they are in doubt of people's words. After many unfortunate attempts they give up.

Isn't this a counterexample for "do not lie" duty? If so, how can Kantianism even prove that perfect duties even exist? And moreover the perfection of any particular duty.

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    Possible answer can be found here. You do not seem to understand what contradiction in conception means for Kant. The case you mentioned is explained under the last header in the case a) (inner contradiction). – Philip Klöcking Apr 4 '18 at 9:57
  • @PhilipKlöcking, the thing is that there is no contradiction in my example which justifies the lie. Thus being a counterexample for Kant's "do not lie" imperative. This puts lying to contradiction in the will, making "do not lie" imperfect duty. – rus9384 Apr 4 '18 at 10:29
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    You fail to formulate a particular maxim, you just describe a situation where consistent lying would "solve" a particular situation, describing it from the outside. This does not constitute a counterexample to the Kantian universalization at all (as explained under the link above). Again, I beg to try to understand what is happening in Kantian terms first. If you did, you would understand that you'd need to find a maxim including lying that when universalized through the CI does not end up in logical incoherences. – Philip Klöcking Apr 4 '18 at 10:41
  • @PhilipKlöcking, but then does an example with murderer trying find kids valid? Since after universalization it is not possible for such a human to exist, it seems it is not valid thus not being a concern of Kantianism? – rus9384 Apr 4 '18 at 10:46
  • That seems to be a pretty bogus maxim. Clearly when one does the lying for extortion, it's for the hope of extorting. – virmaior Apr 5 '18 at 2:50
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The duty not to lie is not in virtue of the consequences that would result from some particular act, but because if we universalze the maxim of lying (generally speaking) there would no longer be any upside to lying. If lying is universal law and I tell you, “give me $50 or I’ll kill you”, there would be no reason for you to fear for your life because the universality of the maxim of lying implies that my threat is empty.

Kant’s “proof” of a contradiction is an a priori argument, and it seems plausibe if taken at face value. The biggest concern is whether the intuitive result of universalizing some action is sufficient to establish its moral value - intuitively, probably not.

  • Wait, wait... if he does not lie, that means he really will kill me if I don't give $50. Why is there no reason to fear? About appliability of Kantian ethics... we do not live in perfect society, thus Kantian ethics probably fail. – rus9384 Apr 5 '18 at 9:14
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    Sorry to be off-topic, but this kind of logic always annoys me. If someone tells you "give me $50 or I'll kill you" there is already no reason to believe them. If they willing to kill they are much more likely to be willing to lie about it. And if they are willing to kill for $50 they are much more likely to be willing to kill for no reason at all. Once you give them the $50, you have witnessed their evil and they should kill you to prevent others from finding out how evil they are. The idea of counting on the honor of person who threatens your life is kind of bizarre... – jobermark Apr 6 '18 at 22:57
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    The argument is not that lying universally takes away the advantage of lying. It is that lying universally takes away the ability to pass on the abstract notion of truth to anyone else. Truth is hard enough to fathom when most folks are trying to maintain it. In a world lacking that value, it would be impossible to even explain. – jobermark Apr 6 '18 at 23:02

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