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Is Deception Justified? Essay

Everyone characterizes deception differently. One may view it as breaking the trust of a loved one and think of it as mere deceit. Others may accept deception as a way to gain/give happiness. Some may even think of it as part of life. More commonly, deception stands being viewed as hand and hand with “evil”, this includes, not only viewed by people, but also portrayed in movies and novels from all eras of time. Frequently feelings dealing with deceit –lying or jealousy- creates anger in an individual leading into irrationality. However, can a simple trick or lie for the sake of entertainment or flattery allow deception to be justified?

Robert Southey once said “All deception in the course of life is indeed nothing else but a lie reduced to practice, and falsehood passing from words into things.” (Southey 133) If we look through the famous works of today, we notice deception is the major downfall of main characters or villains. In Shakespeare’s Othello the feelings of deceit and jealousy are prevalent throughout the play by Lago, which ultimately leads up to his actions against other characters of the play. However, many disagree with Robert Southey. A philosophy called utilitarianism refers to what is good for a human being. Therefore, according the philosophy of utilitarianism, if deceiving someone saves a life, or causes happiness to another, or others, then deception is justified. The only problem with this philosophy is, how can one measure one’s happiness against another’s misery? Assuming this deception backfires or the deceiver is not happy or is feeling guilty with the deceit.

Lying and deception are extremely common when interacting with another person. Nearly everyday, either associating, or being in contact with another, one can expect to either witness or convey deception. “Deception can be defined as an intentional verbal message that does not honestly reflect an individual’s actual opinion” (Zuckerman, DeFrank, Hall, Larrance, & Rosenthal, 1979). Elias Conetti once stated, “Adults find pleasure in deceiving a child. They consider it necessary, but they also enjoy it. The children very quickly figure it out and then practice deception themselves” (Conetti, Elias, 1980) Deception may be not justified, but some believe deceit to be acceptable, for example mothers may lie to there kids to eat there vegetables or do there homework.

However, the other forms of deception can cause harm to a person emotionally and thus shouldn’t be justified or accepted. Even if, the conveyor thinks he is morally just. Robert Rusking stated “The essence of lying is in deception, not in words” which means that lying is deception itself whether its trying to make your friend feel better on a bad day, or containing the intentions of being cruel. Deception is nothing other than deception, and shouldn’t be justified no matter what ethics. In a philosophy called Kantianism, developed by a German philosopher Immanuel Kant, the belief is that “People should be treated as an end and never as a mere means to an end”(Kant, Immanuel 1785 (Kant)). In other words, it is unethical to use people for your own personal gain because people are valuable in themselves.

Assuming from the beliefs of Kantianism, deception is only justified if you justify your own deception in other words if you think you have the right to be told the truth, then you are also bound to tell the truth. In conclusion, to me I believe in the utilitarianism philosophy, because if deception saves a life, then the deception is a necessity. Everyday we are deceived, whether by phony politicians or lousy advertisements on TV. Some deception is cruel, irrelevant, and unnecessary, but some can really make someone or people happy. I believe that anything that helps humanity should be justified, but deception just for cruel or bizarre intention shouldn’t be. Therefore, I decided deception can be justified, but only for good intentions.

Work Cited Page
Mazur, Tim C. “Lying and Ethics.” Lying and Ethics. N.p., 2010. Web. 03 Sept. 2012. .

“Utilitarianism.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2012. .

“Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.” SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2012. .

Canetti, Elias. “Quotation by Elias Canetti.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2012.

“Essays.cc – Utilitarianism V. Kantianism.” Essays.cc – Utilitarianism V. Kantianism. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2012. .

Aufderheide, Patricia, Peter Jaszi, and Mridu Chandra. “Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in Their Work [2009].” Center for Social Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2012. .

Decaire, Michael W. “The Detection of Deception Via Non-Verbal Deception Cues – Law Library 1999-2001.” The Detection of Deception Via Non-Verbal Deception Cues – Law Library 1999-2001. N.p., 30 Nov. 2000. Web. 03 Sept. 2012. .


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