Kantian Ethics and Intimate Attachments

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This essay questions whether recent attempts to reconcile Kantian ethics and intimate attachments can be successful. Defenders have argued that Kantian commitments would leave enough room to pursue the sorts of intimate attachments that provide so much of the meaning and structures of most lives. However, close attention to the letter and spirit of Kant's ethics suggests that imperfect duties would demand far more of conscientious Kantians than defenders have acknowledged. The duties to prevent injustice and alleviate suffering should occupy enough of a good Kantian's life in most cases to strain more intimate commitments.