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Jacques Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784 - page 62 / 80

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PERSONS AND THINGS III

Kant’s ethics says that we ought always to tell the truth, and so Maria had an obligation to tell the truth about her past.  However, Langton suggests that, by telling the truth, Maria is transformed from a person into a thing, “used merchandise,” because of the attitudes of the culture in which she lived.

Langton thinks that perhaps Maria can be permitted to lie because the culture in which she lives is evil.  It is evil since it sees unmarried women who are not virgins as things rather than persons.

The idea is that, knowing that she will be treated like a thing if she is honest, she may lie in order to protect her status as a person.

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