First Paper Assignment: Saint Augustine on Lying
Due Date: Feb 14
Length: 3 (minimum!) to 5 pages (typed, double-spaced—750 to 1250 words. Please use the word count feature in your word processing program. See paper format rules)
Reading: read the passages in our text where Augustine presents his view on lying. “The Evil of Telling a Lie” and “Lying and Concealing the Truth,” pgs 166-171.
(a) In your paper present as clearly as you can, Augustine’s view about the morality of lying and truthtelling. (Does he think lying is wrong? Why does he think what he thinks—what are his reasons/evidence? Does he allow for any exceptions in his view? Does he think we always have to tell the truth?
(b) Is Augustine right? Present an analysis and critique of Augustine’s view. In this analysis, apply Augustine’s view to a modern day situation—present what you think Augustine’s analysis of this would be. Do you agree or disagree with Augustine’s view either generally or in its application (realizing that this may be a matter of degree as well)? Why do you think as you do—present cogent reasons for your agreement or disagreement with Augustine. Be clear about any short comings or deficiencies in your thinking as well as in Augustine’s. Remember, you are trying to assess this in terms of the truth, so you must consider Augustine’s arguments, and not just his conclusions. So, for instance, you may not like his answer, but if you can see no way to lessen the cogency of his arguments, you will have to grant him the point!
Background reading: Here is another treatise on Lying. Also see our text, pgs 255-260.
Write the paper in a standard essay format, which includes introduction (introducing the subject, points, and purpose of your essay) and a conclusion.
You will be graded on the following (though each is not equal in weight):
• Mastery of the material (especially the material in the reading)
• Sound organization and structure in your essay
• Persuasiveness in your reasoning
• Good writing