Kantian Ethics Demands That We Treat ‘Humanity 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’. Explain and Critically Assess the Kantian Ideal of Respect for Humanity

Topics: Immanuel Kant, Philosophy, Categorical imperative Pages: 3 (774 words) Published: October 29, 2008
Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end.”

This maxim reflects Kant’s deontological view of ethics that is based on the constraint of actions not necessarily from fear of the circumstances arising from actions but for the respect for rational beings. Respect for humanity is based on acknowledging the rationality of beings that are able to reason. All material bodies under the umbrella of nature are governed by and are subject to laws. Rational beings carry out acts that concur to one’s own perception of a given law. This attribute of a rational being is what constitutes the will of a man, which in turn is derived from reason. Such a power can only be found in rational beings. Supposing that the existence of a rational being has in itself an absolute value there would then be ground for a possible Categorical Imperative.

As a generalisation rational being are ends in themselves and not merely as a means of manipulative use by one person or another. This rational being in all actions whether directed to himself of others should always be seen at the same time as an end. Beings that depend on nature rather than will have relative value as means, and because of this attribute are referred to as things. Rational beings however are called persons and their very nature places a demand on themselves as well as others for treatment as ends in themselves and not merely as means. This then places a strong limit on arbitrary use of a person as would be in the case of a thing.

Rational Nature exists as an end in itself. If a man conceives his existence in such a manner the italised statement becomes a subjective principle of human actions. However it is also in this way that every other rational being conceives his existence hence it is at the same time an objective principle of human action from will laws that govern the will are...
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