Symposium: Kant’s “Supposed Right to Lie”

University of St Andrews, 3 December 2019

9am – 5pm, Room 104, Department of Philosophy, The Scores, St Andrews, KY16 9AR, Scotland

Jens Timmermann is Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. His “Kant’s ‘Supposed Right to Lie’” is the result of decades of work on Kant’s essay On a Supposed Right to Lie from Love of Humanity. Kant’s uncompromising insistence on the impermissibility of lying even to a murderer asking for the whereabouts of her victim has generated an extraordinary amount of discussion since the publication of the essay in 1797, and today the essay still cited in articles and classrooms, often as a sort of reductio of his entire moral philosophy. Despite the amount of attention it has received, however, the essay remains poorly understood.

In his book, Timmermann offers the most textually comprehensive account of Kant’s views on lying to date, and delves into the intricacies of the history of Kant’s essay and of its arguments. Upon publication, the book is likely to become a point of reference for anyone seeking to understand Kant’s views on lying and Kant’s moral philosophy more generally; and it will appeal to anyone interested in the philosophy of lying and deception and in moral philosophy in its own right.

On the day of the symposium, Prof. Timmermann will give an overview of the manuscript, and then the symposiasts will give papers commenting on aspects of it. I am proud to announce an outstanding line-up of participants: Stefano Bacin (Milan); Sorin Baiasu (Keele); Sarah Broadie (St Andrews); and James Mahon (CUNY). There will be plenty of time for Q&A and open discussion.

The event is free to attend, but places are limited so please email the organiser (Stefano Lo Re: to register your interest.


9.00 – 9.05: Stefano Lo Re — Welcome, Introduction

9.05 – 09.50: Jens Timmermann — Kant’s “Supposed Right to Lie”

9.50 – 11.10: James Mahon (CUNY)

11.10 – 11.20: Break

11.20 – 12.40: Sorin Baiasu (Keele)

12.40 – 13.40: Lunch break (lunch provided)

13.40 – 15.00: Sarah Broadie (St Andrews)

15.00 – 15.10: Break

15.10 – 16.30: Stefano Bacin

16.30 – 17.00: Jens Timmermann’s concluding remarks and general discussion


***The event is made possible by the support of the Scots Philosophical Association***