Imagine this:

A gang of 5 thugs  is chasing a small boy who is 11 years old. He bangs on you door and begs to be taken in. He breathlessly explains that if the gang catches him they will  beat him up severely.

You decide to give him refuge.

In their search for the boy, the gang leader bangs on your door and asks if you have seen the boy.  I am guessing that you would do what most of us would – say no! However, most of us are taught and home and school that to lie is “bad” – unethical.  So this seems to be an ethical dilemma? an ethical dilemma. However, this scenario shows that on rare occasions, it is ethical to lie.

Another horrible example.

Unfortunately, your husband going to work this morning was involved in a  serious car accident and has died. Your main concern is your 13 year-old son who is on a school trip and it will take you  a few hours for a friend to drive you to go and get him. Your son and dad were very close indeed – best friends – and the news will devastate your son. You have given school staff permission to say there was an accident and that you will come and collect him in the late afternoon – but he does not know his dad is dead. During the journey he telephones and asks directly “is dad dead?”

Please forgive me using such a dreadful example, but I know what I would do – lie. Or a least be “economical with the truth” – until I got there and could tell him and person and comfort him.

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