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A lie is a lie: the ethics of lying in business negotiations

Sherwood, Charles (2022) A lie is a lie: the ethics of lying in business negotiations. Business Ethics Quarterly, 32 (4). 604 - 634. ISSN 1052-150X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/beq.2021.41


I argue that lying in business negotiations is pro tanto wrong and no less wrong than lying in other contexts. First, I assert that lying in general is pro tanto wrong. Then, I examine and refute five arguments to the effect that lying in a business context is less wrong than lying in other contexts. The common thought behind these arguments—based on consent, self-defence, the “greater good,” fiduciary duty, and practicality—is that the particular circumstances which are characteristic of business negotiations are such that the wrongness of lying is either mitigated or eliminated completely. I argue that all these “special exemption” arguments fail. I conclude that, in the absence of a credible argument to the contrary, the same moral constraints must apply to lying in business negotiations as apply to lying in other contexts. Furthermore, I show that for the negotiator, there are real practical benefits from not lying.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2022 00:08
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 18:33

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