Kant and Duty Ethics
In this paper I will first go into a detailed review of Kant’s second formulation of the first categorical imperative. I will explain in depth what the second formulation means and how Kant came to take on a philosophical position such as this. Next, I will describe the two most pertinent and grounded critiques that Feldman has regarding the second formulation. Then I will defend Kant’s formulation from these critiques. Finally I will summarize the above information and conclude the essay.
Before delving into the specifics of the second formulation there is one concept that is critical to understand. For Immanuel Kant, the results/consequences/outcomes of an action aren’t what is important. Instead, the intentions behind the actions are what Kant values. The second formulation of the categorical imperative is as follows- Kant say’s “So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as and end withal, never as means only” (page 147). In more modern day vernacular, Kant would say that you should never use a person solely as a means to an end but always as an end in himself. The word “solely” is of utmost importance in this case as it would be impossible not to use someone as a means. An example of this is a man who needs a haircut before an interview because his hair is so long and hasn’t been combed in so long that he looks like a hippie. He goes into the hair salon and sits down and talks kindly to the stylist as she cuts his hair. He tips her appropriately and leaves the salon. Does the gentleman use the hair stylist as a means? Yes, he uses the stylist as a means to getting his hair cut into something more presentable. However, he does not use her solely as a means to get his hair cut. He finds value in his stylist and treats her respectfully, as Kant would say we should. Therefore, he does not use the stylist solely as a means to achieve his own ends. In order to further understand this...
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