Latest Issue

Everyday philosophy

The axeman cometh

By Nigel Warburton   December 2009

What’s wrong with an independent scientific adviser telling the truth about the comparative dangerousness of drugs? Thanks to David Nutt, this question has been everywhere in the media. Truth can be inconvenient. But no scientist with integrity ever knowingly distorts it. At the point where scientific advisers match evidence-based views to political agendas, they cease to be scientists.

Philosophy can be a demanding discipline too. Kant, for example, took a hard line on truth-telling. If a crazed axeman comes to the door asking where your best friend is, Kant argued that you should tell him. For Kant, your duty to…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect