The Value of Humanity in Kants Moral Theory

Hardcover | May 11, 2006

byRichard Dean

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The humanity formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative demands that we treat humanity as an end in itself. Because this principle resonates with currently influential ideals of human rights and dignity, contemporary readers often find it compelling, even if the rest of Kant's moralphilosophy leaves them cold. Moreover, some prominent specialists in Kant's ethics recently have turned to the humanity formulation as the most theoretically central and promising principle of Kant's ethics. Nevertheless, despite the intuitive appeal and the increasingly recognized philosophicalimportance of the humanity formulation, it has received less attention than many other, less central, aspects of Kant's ethics. Richard Dean offers the most sustained and systematic examination of the humanity formulation to date. Dean argues that the 'rational nature' that must be treated as an end in itself is not a minimally rational nature, consisting of the power to set ends or the unrealized capacity to act morally, but instead is the more properly rational nature possessed by someone who gives priority to moralprinciples over any contrary impulses. This non-standard reading of the humanity formulation provides a firm theoretical foundation for deriving plausible approaches to particular moral issues - and, contrary to first impressions, does not impose moralistic demands to pass judgment on others'character. Dean's reading also enables progress on problems of interest to Kant scholars, such as reconstructing Kant's argument for accepting the humanity formulation as a basic moral principle, and allows for increased understanding of the relationship between Kant's ethics and supposedly Kantianideas such as 'respect for autonomy'.

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The humanity formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative demands that we treat humanity as an end in itself. Because this principle resonates with currently influential ideals of human rights and dignity, contemporary readers often find it compelling, even if the rest of Kant's moralphilosophy leaves them cold. Moreover, some prominen...

Richard Dean is at American University of Beirut.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.87 inPublished:May 11, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199285721

ISBN - 13:9780199285723

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Table of Contents

I. Good Will as an End in Itself1. Introduction2. What should we treat as an end in itself?3. The good will reading meshes with major ideas of Kant's ethics4. The textual dispute, and arguments in favour of minimal readings5. Is the good will reading just too hard to swallow?II. The Humanity Formulation as a Moral Principle6. The argument for the humanity formula7. How duties follow from the categorical imperative8. Kantian value, beneficence, and consequentialism9. Non-human animals, humanity, and the kingdom of ends10. Would Kant say we should respect moral autonomy?11. Autonomy as an end in itself?12. Some big pictures

Editorial Reviews

"Richard Dean aims not only to revolutionize the way Kantians think about the Formula of Humanity, but to generate whole new approaches to both Kant scholarship and the use of Kant in applied ethics.... Dean's book is certainly both challenging and stimulatingDean brings the issue of reconciling the unconditional value of the good will and the value of humanity as an end in itself to the fore, and this should inspire further moral enquiries of a sort that will be good not only for Kantian ethics, but for ethics and applied ethics in general."--Patrick R. Frierson, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews