top-rated free essay

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

Oct 29, 2008 774 Words
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 to be formulated. Considering the following examples:

Example 1:

A certain man contemplates suicide in order to escape away from situations considered as miserable and undesirable. If he asks himself if his actions are compatible witht eh idea of humanity as an end in itself and continues to end his life it can thus be said that he is making use of his own person as a means to a a tolerable state until the end of this life. However man is indeed not a thing. His actions show disregard for this rule through the processes of thinking of and executing this act. He must in all his actions regar himself as an end in himself and not simply as a means to an end.

Example 2:

A certain person borrows money from another and may have neither the means nor the intent to pay it back. Using this formula it is quite apparent that this act is immoral. The act of a lying promise in a functional society is not universilisalisable and makes use of the other as a means to an end that that he has little or no possibility of partaking in. This violation of one’s duty to others is more apparent when regarding the freedom of individuals as well as their property. It is in these cases that the transgressor against the rights of the other with no consideration of the rationality of the violated person. He is simply using the other as a means to an end and not as an end in himself who at the same time must be able to share the end of this action.

Taking these examples into consideration it can therefore be said that it is not enough that an action should conform to the formula of treating rational individuals as end but must harmonize with this end. Humanity looked at holistically can be viewed as an end in itself and therefore a disregard of the rationality of an individual goes against the treatment of humanity as an end in itself. Also a dominant pursuit of individuals within the set of humanity seek to pursue happiness. Rational beings should therefore should not only seek to contribute to the happiness of others but to also refrain from deliberately imparing their happiness.

Reference list

Kant, I. (1999). Introduction to Philosophy (3rd Edition ed.). (J. Perry, & M. Bratman, Eds.) New York: Oxford University Press. Paton, H. J. (1952). Kantian Ethics. The Philosophical quarterly , 53-58.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Kantian Ethics AS Essay

    ... [A]Explain Kantian ethics. Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 and was a renowned German philosopher with huge influences on modern philosophy. He was perhaps most known for his work ‘Critique of Practical Reason’ which looked at the way we as humans use reason to arrive at result. This work with reason was his most significant, aimed a...

    Read More
  • Kantian Ethics

    ...If we would be viewing Ana’s situation using Kantian ethics, there would be no more arguments to discuss with regards to what would be the morally right thing to do on her situation. Kantian ethics had set it as absolute —whatever consequence that lies ahead, it is Ana’s duty to give birth to her child despite of its expected deficiency. T...

    Read More
  • Ethics Kantian Ethics

    ...Ethics essay – Kantian ethics a.) Explain Kant’s concept of duty Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who was concerned with producing an ethical theory that was logical and absolute, and did not change depending on the situation, countering the views of John Locke and other empiricists of the time. His ethics are based on duty, rather ...

    Read More
  • Kantian Ethics

    ...things about Kantian ethics is that it is based on the individual. The individual can decide if their actions are worth doing to another person by weighing if the person would want the action done to them. The Kantian point of view is completely different from the Utilitarian point of view because the Kantian point of view deals with the indiv...

    Read More
  • Kantian Ethics

    ...Kantian ethics is a deontological ethical theory first proposed by German philosopher Immanuel Kant. The theory, developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will; therefore an action can only be good if the maxim, or principle, behind it is duty to the moral law. Centr...

    Read More
  • Kantian Ethics vs. Utilitarianism

    ...such as John Stuart Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism. In teleological approaches to morality, questions of right and wrong, or the notion what an individual ought to do, are determined by the consequences of a given action. One thinker to reject this idea of consequentialism was Immanuel Kant. In his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, ...

    Read More
  • Kantian Ethics

    ...reading the Oil rig case, it is evident that the case presented an all too common example of violating sound ethical business behavior where humans are subjected to ill treatment, unsafe work condition, and total disregard for their welfare. In this paper, I will attempt to apply the Kantian Ethics principles to this case in order to determine w...

    Read More
  • Kantian Moral Theory: Respect for Humans

    ...realm of ends, everything has either a price or dignity. Whatever has a price can be replaced by something else its equivalent; on the other hand, whatever is above all price, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity” Immanuel Kant Abstract The relationship between an Employer and an Employee is important in the world of busi...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.