Kant's Iphigenia In Aulis

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In the story of “Iphigenia in Aulis,” King Agamemnon is presented with a difficult situation. He says: “Calchas the soothsayer bade me offer for a sacrifice to Artemis, who is goddess of this place, my daughter Iphigenia, saying that so only should the army have a prosperous voyage from this place to Troy.” Agamemnon must decide to either have a successful journey to Troy or to sacrifice his own daughter. Even though it is difficult for him, Agamemnon ultimately decides to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia. He tells his wife the Queen for Iphigenia to come to this place by saying she is to marry Achilles, and he would not sail with the army unless Iphigenia marries him. Iphigenia and the Queen both arrive to see King Agamemnon. The King continues…show more content…
Kant developed the Categorical Imperative from which all duties are derived. The Categorical Imperative is made up of two formulations, the Principle of Universality and the Principle of Humanity. The Principle of Universality states act only on maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become universal law. The Principle of Humanity states always treat others (including yourself) as an end and never simply as a means to an end. According to Kantian Ethics, Agamemnon’s act is wrong because he is treating his daughter as a means to an end. Agamemnon has a discussion with his brother Menelaus, who suggests to break up the army to spare the life of Iphigenia. However, Agamemnon says they must go through with the plan because if not “Calchas will cause the matter to be known...saying that I have failed of my promise…they will come and destroy my city and waste my land.” Agamemnon is using his daughter as means to protect himself, his city, and his army. This violates Kantian Ethics because Agamemnon deceives his daughter for his own benefit. The objection could be brought up that Iphigenia makes the decision herself to be sacrificed (“I give my body with a willing heart to die for my country and for the whole land of Greece”), so she is following her own maxim and no one is using her as means to an end. However, Iphigenia is just accepting her fate rather than choosing it. She understands that the choice has already been made for her, and she must not object for the sake of Greece. Iphigenia is still being used as a means to an end, so Agamemnon’s decision violates Kantian

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