Institut für Philosophie
In 1791, Klagenfurt native Maria von Herbert wrote her first out of three letters to Kant. One of her reasons for writing to Kant is that because of a „protracted lie“, „a sin of omission“, she lost the esteem of someone she loved – and so seeks Kant’s guidance. But what is this mysterious ’sin‘ she was speaking of? In my talk I shall explore the fine lines separating lies, deception and reticence in Kant’s moral philosophy, as well as which of these three von Herbert’s ‚moral flaw‘ most likely consisted in. I argue that von Herbert did not lie in the Kantian sense, and refuse Mahon’s (2006) claim that von Herbert was deceptively reticent. Instead I will suggest that she was DISTRUSTFULLY reticent, which might under normal circumstances be prudent, but which she perhaps ought not have done in the context of close friendship.
Geertje Bol (St. Andrews)
Bernhard Ritter (bernhard [dot] ritter [at] aau [dot] at)