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Shortcomings with Kantian Ethics as Viewed from Maria von Herbert’s Exchange with Kant Introduction Immanuel Kant came up with an ethic theory that was duty oriented, which required people to first determine their duty in order to do what is considered ethical.
Since these duties would apply to every rational individual, ethics would prevail as individuals would be acting under universal laws that are absolute, therefore, without events of contradictions occurring (Kay, 2007). This paper will examine Maria von Herbert’s interaction with Kant as seen in the reading by Rae Langton, thus pointing out the problems, with Kantian ethics, their severity and how the Kantian can suitably respond. Firstly, it is crucial to examine the details of the letters and the events that followed in order to chronologically assess the situation and pinpoint the main issues. In Rae Langton’s reading, a theme of friendship between Maria von Herbert, a young Austrian and Kant seems to welcome the reader. Herbert is presented as a keen follower of Kant and even with the on-going enmity between Germany and Austria; she still seems to be devoted to Kant’s ideologies. In the season of autumn in 1791, Herbert wrote Kant a letter disclosing her suffering caused by losing her lover due to revealing certain information to him. Agitated from emotion, she said that she had contemplated suicide but because of Kant’s theory, she had decided otherwise (Langton, 1992:2). Herbert felt that she should confess about a certain truth that she had not told her lover so that she could be at peace with herself. ...
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