Law and Philosophy

, Volume 38, Issue 5–6, pp 439–452 | Cite as

The Morality of Lying and the Murderer at the Door

  • Kate GreasleyEmail author
Open Access


The article engages with some of the main claims in chapter 1 of Seana Shiffrin’s book Speech Matters. There, Shiffrin sets out a case for a general moral prohibition on lying, based on the conditions required for reliable speech, and circumscribes the permissible falsehoods that could be uttered to would-be moral criminals, such as Kant’s familiar murderer at the door. I raise a few questions about the case for the general moral prohibition on lying and about Shiffrin’s basis for distinguishing between the sorts of lies that, on her view, one is and is not permitted to tell would-be moral criminals so as to avert harm.


Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hertford CollegeOxfordUK

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