Humanity as an End in Itself

Topics: Categorical imperative, Hypothetical imperative, Deontological ethics Pages: 2 (748 words) Published: November 15, 2010
In Thomas E. Hill’s article “Humanity as an End in Itself,” he discusses Kant’s theory about humanity and explains what Kant thinks humanity is and that it is the ultimate end that a person should strive for. One of the elements of this theory is Kant’s second Categorical Imperative which goes into detail with five different aspects, what he believes makes up humanity in a person. Then he goes on to give seven different explanations about humanity as an end. Kant also believes that there are two different types of ends, personal and ends in themselves, and each has their own value; dignity for personal ends and ends in themselves has a price. Lastly, he gives a list of seven things to do and not to do to oneself in order to have humanity within yourself and others.

In the second Categorical Imperative, it states “ Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end”(84). Meaning, that a person has the duty not to manipulate others ever, even for their own personal gain. With this statement, Kant explains the characteristics of humanity. The first is one is the inclination and ability to act on principles and maxims. Second is the ability and inclination to act on hypothetical imperatives, as long as they don’t conflict with categorical imperatives. Third, “the power to set any end whatsoever”, which means that we have certain abilities that lower animals lack, such as the ability to predict consequences, have long term goals, resist immediate temptations, and to commit to an end in which we have no sensuous desire. Fourth, as persons, we can accept a certain conduct at different times. Fifth, humanity has the ability to understand the world and to have practical reason. One must have these five characteristics of humanity, or according to Kant, they have no free will.

Kant believes humanity is an end, which he explains why with seven...
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