In common usage within western culture the concept of deception is heavily loaded and induces a strong negative emotional response in many people.

It often gives rise to a range of stereotypes concerning ethicality and lying. It is therefore entirely and necessarily appropriate that the ethics of employing deception are considered carefully by anyone that seeks to use it in a professional context.

...although deceivers face many uncontrollable contingencies which threaten their plans, deceptions almost always result in advantages for those who attempt them.”

Daniel, Herbing, Reese, Heur, Serbin, Moose, and Sherwin (1980, p. 2)

In considering the relationship between deception and ethics, deceptiveness often gets confounded with ethicality. Judging or believing that something is deceptive is not the same as judging or believing that the act is unethical. In addition, deception can be used for a wide range of benign or benevolent purposes. For example, deception is used in entertainment, comedy, practical jokes, story telling & fiction, visual effects, magic, education, parenting (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), medicine, fashion, beauty and make-up, gambling, sport (as a tactic) and in many other domains. In all of these applications, the methods and strategies employed are exactly the same as when deception is employed for malevolent purposes, suggesting that the deception itself is neutral, and can be used for both good or bad.

Deceiving someone into doing something that is good for them seems to be entirely ethical (or at least not unethical) – for example, deceiving someone into taking a drug that is beneficial to them and eases their pain. And most views on the development of moral values and beliefs espouse the view that deception itself is not immoral or unethical.

Deception is value neutral. It is the intent behind the deception, the purpose to which deception is put, the process that is enacted, and the outcome arising from the use of deception that must be subject to careful ethical scrutiny and evaluation. All our courses include extensive checklists for the rigorous assessment of any deceptive activities prior to any actions being taken.