Treating Humanity as an End

Steven Sverdlik

in Motive and Rightness

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594948
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725401 | DOI:
Treating Humanity as an End

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Another version of Kant's Categorical Imperative is the Formula of Humanity. This is investigated with regard to its treatment of the deontic relevance of motives. The portion of the formula prohibiting treating humanity merely as a means is shown to yield an implausibly subjective conception of deontic status. It is more plausible to take the essence of the Formula to be a requirement to treat rational agents as ends. The special meaning of ‘end’ is explored, and it is shown that it can support a largely objective conception of deontic status. The question of whether motives can ever be relevant deontically, given this interpretation, is then investigated. Evidence from Kant's Metaphysics of Morals is examined, in particular, the passages that discuss motives like malice. Kant's position about such motives seems to be ‘intrinsic Kantianism’: any action from malice is wrong. To make malice strongly wrong‐making in this way is implausible.

Keywords: Kant; Formula of Humanity; motives; Categorical Imperative; malice; rational agents; treating as an end; treating as a means; Metaphysics of Morals; moral wrongness

Chapter.  10510 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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