Author: Abdoulie Tamba ID# 102120562
Killing or lying, which is less harmful? This question, as philosophical as it might sound is an interesting question. Although at first the answer seems to be obvious but when one reflects deeply into the question it becomes evident that there is more to the answer than the question suggests. Whichever of the two you chose you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact both are vices and choosing one only implies you have chosen the least, worst option of the two. This is in line with the universal moral perspective; killing and lying are vices.
In an ideal situation, where all the real life factors that can give rise to complex situations are absent, lying would be less harmful than killing. But the problem with this is that it’s hypothetical because of the assumption that all the different factors are absent and this is highly unrealistic as there is wide chasm between reality and such theoretical situations. Also the two vices (killing and lying) are in many cases intertwined, one might be the cause and the other, the effect. As such my position on the issue is neutral one and in the paragraphs below I give examples to back my stance.
Lying can be a reason for killing people. Many people tell lies to justify killing or to even kill. Politicians are especially known for this. They tell lies so that they can win support for their wars. A good example is the Iraq war. During the run up to the war the then U.S president, George Bush made up all kinds of lies to incite fear in the hearts of his countrymen in order to win support for the war. The results: deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Here lying was the cause and killing the effect.
In general, killing and lying are obnoxious crimes; in fact they are heinous crimes of the highest order. But there are rare cases, that these two vices can produce ‘good’ or positive outcomes. A good example is telling a lie to save someone’s life or to save a relationship. Many people are faced with such situations sometimes in their lifetime and usually its necessary that one tells a lie to prevent a big problem. Also killing can yield positive results in some cases, for example killing murderers like serial killers can save innocent lives. In such case committing a lesser crime (killing a serial killer) can prevent a bigger crime (killing of innocent people by the serial killer).
In conclusion, it’s clear from the last two paragraphs that lying and killing intertwined. And choosing the least worse of the two is rather impossible because different factors and situations can make one less harmful than the other.