Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 6-1-2021


Our conception of what constitutes ethical behaviour starts young. As children, we take part in moral education and learn about what is right and wrong. Stories and parables are common tools used in teaching morals. Even though many children’s books have simple presentations of ethical arguments and positions, they can serve as springboards for further discussion and reflection on concepts related to ethics. The Honest-to-Goodness Truth, a children’s book by Pat McKissack does precisely that. The book posits that the truth should only be told when it is pleasant and not when it can be hurtful. This paper holds an alternative view to the one proposed, the view being that the truth should always be told, even when it is not nice. In particular, this paper argues that telling the truth should always be prioritised because lying to others denies them the ability to live in a way that is sensible and aligns with reality. Furthermore, not telling the truth out of consideration for others’ feelings denies them the chance to grow and improve themselves. This paper uses examples of common, everyday interpersonal interactions to illustrate how telling the truth regardless of others can reap a net benefit. Concealing the truth and being dishonest to protect their feelings, which might seem to be a good decision, but only in the short term. The paper concludes with an explanation of how we may circumvent certain issues with putting into practice this approach to honesty in our everyday lives.


Winner of the 2021 Prindle Prize for Ethics in the Humanities

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