I am Lucifer DeMorte

Is Lying for Profit ALWAYS Morally Permissible?

Pro Tip: DON'T Exclusively Rely On Your Feelings

Please remember that this is a philosophy assignment. In your other classes, it might be okay to mindlessly parrot other people's opinions, but in philosophy you are required to think critically.

(Added 10/27/22) Please also remember that this is a moral philosophy paper in which you are required to apply what you have learned about morality, which is that morality is a real, independent thing, and does not depend of people's feelings about what's right and wrong. For instance, doing unjustified harm to innocent people is morally wrong, no matter what anybody's personal "morals" might say about the subject. Stealing, and breaking promises are also things that, in most circumstances should be considered morally wrong. Thus the question here is whether or not it is morally okay for people to lie just as long as it is done for profit.

When I started college, and began reading articles that opposed each other, I had a strong tendency to agree with whichever article I was reading at the time. In order to start thinking critically, I had to understand that two opposing writers couldn't both be right. At least one of them had to be wrong, and it was my job to examine each side's arguments in order to figure out which one of them was using bad reasoning. With this in mind, I began to be able to puzzle out people's arguments, and to begin to be able to figure out when a writer was making a bad argument.

Following this I began to look more critically at the single unopposed articles I was reading, and began finding logical flaws in some of them, eventually accepting some claims as true, and rejecting others as false based on what I could figure out about the logical strength of the articles I was reading.

This critical approach is what I want you to apply to Carr's arguments. Don't just say he's right because what he says feels right to you. Do the work required by the prompt, and figure out whether or not his arguments really do logically support his claims.

To put a finer point on this, papers that give no evidence of critical thought may receive as few as zero points.

(Red material added 03/22/22.)


Some students simply read Carr's article, say to themselves "sounds right to me" and then write a paper based on that uncritical assumption that Carr is right about everything. This is called mindlessness, and it is very bad. Do not do things this way. Instead logically critique the writer's argument that lying in business is morally okay.

Again, this is a moral philosophy paper. The issue is whether or not business lying is morally okay, NOT whether or not business lying is profitable. (Added 03/27/22.)

Aaaaaaaand, again, this is a moral philosophy paper. The question is whether or not business lying is morally okay, NOT whether or not business lying conforms to social norms, and NOT whether or not business lying conforms to business norms. (Added 10/04/22.)

For background, read https://www.businessinsider.com/the-biggest-lies-ever-told-by-major-advertisers-2012-11 for for information on business lies and their effects.

Then read https://hbr.org/1968/01/is-business-bluffing-ethical

Figure out the writer's main argument(s) for the thesis that it's always morally okay for businesses to lie to people. (Added 11/4/21.)

Then figure out their argument for that thesis

And finally logically critique that argument.

Remember, your task is to 1. dig into the article, 2. find the writer's argument for his claim, 3. describe, 4. analyze and 5. critique that argument.

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