The Textual Dispute, and Arguments in Favour of Minimal Readings

Richard Dean

in The Value of Humanity in Kant's Moral Theory

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780199285723
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603938 | DOI:
 The Textual Dispute, and Arguments in Favour of Minimal Readings

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Commentators more or less universally agree that the ‘humanity’ that must be treated as an end in itself is not literally membership in the human species, but rather some minimal form of ‘rational nature’ possessed by all typical adult humans. But there is more disagreement than is generally recognized about exactly what aspect of rational nature qualifies someone as an end in herself. Although Kant’s texts are not perfectly consistent, the most justified overall reading is that Kant means the end in itself to be the will of a being committed to morality, rather than the end in itself being just the power to set ends (Willkür), the self-legislation of moral principles through Wille, or the overall capacity to act morally. Many of the texts offered in favor of one of the minimal readings of ‘humanity’ actually favour the good will reading if taken within their larger context, and some key passages favouring the good will reading have been overlooked or minimized.

Keywords: moral capacity; end in itself; good will; humanity; minimal reading; rational nature; self-legislation; Wille; Willkür

Chapter.  13265 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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