Santa and the truth about lying

The trial of St Nick

In the midst of the festive season, as the iconic figure of Santa Claus takes centre stage, an ethical quandary emerges: should we be joining in the Santa Lie? Lying seems obviously wrong, we wouldn’t lie to adults or so we think. Michael Kuznets argues differently, philosophers have misunderstood the point of lying and ethical diktats ignores their social and developmental function.

 

At this time of year, it has become traditional to stroke one’s (luxurious white) beard and ask: should civil society knowingly collude with caregivers to perpetuate a sinister falsehood upon the nation’s children? The tradition is deeply embedded in our culture - a cultural icon that few can match - and the notion of him squeezing down chimneys with a sackful of presents is an integral part of the festival. In other words, is it OK to lie to kids about Santa Claus?

The primary argument against this particular festive tradition tends to be that lying to children is ob

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