1- What does Kant mean when he says that morality requires us to treat humanity as an end and never


1- What does Kant mean when he says that morality requires us to treat humanity as an end and never as a mere means? Give examples of treating humanity as a mere means and then as an end in itself. (250 words) 2- What is the difference between a hypothetical and a categorical imperative? Which kind of imperative does morality involve and why? (250 words) 3- According to Kant, it is impossible to have conflicting moral duties? Can you think of a counter-example to this claim – a case where 2 or more moral duties are somehow in conflict? How should such conflicts be resolved? (100 words)

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1.  PURPOSE:  
In  module  7  we  explored  consequentialist  ethics.    It  was  revealed  that  while  we  often  feel  
consequences  should  play  a  role  in  our  moral  evaluation  of  acts,  utilitarianism  has  problems.  
Most  notably,  consequentialism  does  not  take  into  account  intent,  and  it  allows  us  to  sacrifice  
some  to  benefit  the  majority.  Immanuel  Kant  was  a  philosopher  who  thought  that  ethics  should  
not  allow  us  to  defer  to  context  or  to  treat  people  as  means  to  ends.  It  is  his  philosophy  we  will  
explore  in  the  current  module.  
After  completing  this  lesson,  you  should  be  able  to  accomplish  the  following:  
1. Understand  Kant’s  theory  as  to  what  makes  humans  morally  special  and  unique.  
2. Understand  the  Kantian  distinction  between  treating  people  as  a  means  and  treating  
people  as  an  ends.  
3. Distinguish  the  key  features  and  differences  between  a  consequentialist  and  non-­‐
consequentialist  moral  theory.  
4. Understand  the  Kantian  distinction  between  hypothetical  and  categorical  imperatives.    
5. Understand  the  role  reason  plays  in  moral  justification  according  to  Kant’s  theory  of  
2.  Truman:  Dropping  an  atom  bomb  on  Japanese  cities-­‐-­‐though  it  killed  innocent  men,  women  
and  children-­‐-­‐was  justified  because  it  saved  lives.    
a)  “He  slept  like  a  baby”  after  the  decision!  
3.  Anscombe  on  absolute  moral  rules:  
a)  Killing  innocents  as  a  means  to  ends  is  murder  (wrong)  
b)  “If  you  had  to  chose  between  boiling  one  baby  and  letting  some  frightful  disaster  befall  
one  thousand  people  (or  a  million  if  a  thousand  is  not  enough),  what  would  you  do?”  
(i)  And  if  you  chose  to  boil  the  baby,  should  you  “sleep  like  a  baby?”  
c)  Prohibition  on  killing  innocents  is  one  inviolable  rule  (and  there  are  many  others)  
d)    Do  not  be  tempted  by  hope  of  consequences  
5.  Anscombe’s  view  (and  Kant’s  below)  is  a  form  of  Non-­‐Consequentialism  
a)  Some  things  may  not  be  done  no  matter  what  (the  consequences)  
b)  In  contrast,  consequentialists  (e.  g.  ,  utilitarians)  say  any  moral  rule  may  be  broken  if  
circumstances  demand  it  
6.  Non-­‐consequentialism:  Right  acts  are  determined  by  factors  other  than  the  consequences  
a)  By  motives,  by  doing  what  the  good  person  does  (virtue  ethics),  by  considerations  of  
justice,  fairness,  and  equality,  by  respecting  rights,  by  treating  people  as  they  deserve,  by  
treating  people  as  ends  and  not  means  only,  by  following  moral  rules  that  are  
8.  Morality  consists  in  following  (absolute)  rules  (independent  of  consequences)  
a)Kant  thinks  reason  requires  this  
9.  Hypothetical  and  categorical  imperatives  
a)  An  imperative  tells  you  what  you  should  do  
b)    Hypothetical  imperatives  tells  you  that  you  should  do  this  if  you  want  something  else  
(i)  E.  g.  ,  If  you  to  go  to  law  school,  then  you  should  take  the  entrance  exam  
c)  Categorical  imperative:  Tells  you  what  you  should  do  regardless  of  what  you  want;  
independent  of  any  desires;  do  such  and  such  period  
(i)  Unlike  hypothetical  imperatives,  which  you  can  get  out  of  by  not  having  the  desire  
they  depend  on  
(ii)  Categorical  imperatives  require  certain  action  whatever  your  desires  are  
10.  For  Kant,  morality  involves  categorical  imperatives  
a)  These  are  justified  by  reasons  that  are  binding  on  all  rational  agents  simply  because  
they  are  rational  
11.  1st  formulation  of  the  “categorical  imperative”  
a)”Act  only  according  to  that  maxim  by  which  you  can  at  the  same  time  will  that  it  
should  become  universal  law”  
b)  If  the  rule  by  which  you  act  is  one  that  you  would  be  willing  to  have  everyone  follow  all  
the  time,  then  your  act  is  permissible;  otherwise  not  
12.  Kant’s  examples  of  non-­‐universalizable  rules  
a)  Making  a  false  promise  to  repay  a  loan  knowing  that  one  can’t  repay  is  acceptable  
(i)  Can  one  universalize  this?  (No:  you  would  not  be  willing  to  accept  others  making  
false  promises  to  you)  
b)  Not  giving  to  charity  is  acceptable  
(i)  Can  one  universalize  this?  (No:  if  one  was  in  desperate  need  one  would  not  want  
others  to  be  indifferent  to  one’s  needs)  
13.  For  Kant,  right  acts  are  ones  that  follow  rules  that  are  universalizable  
14.  Universalizable  means  
a)  Not  self-­‐defeating  
b)  Reversible  
c)  Consistently  applied  
15.  Rules  must  not  be  self-­‐defeating  
a)  If  it  is  not  possible  that  the  rule  of  one’s  action  could  be  universally  followed  (they  are  
self-­‐defeating),  then  one  is  taking  unfair  advantage  of  others  
b)  Examples:  
(i)  Butting  in  line  is  self  defeating  if  universalized  
(ii)  Lying  is  self-­‐defeating  if  universalized  
(iii)  False  promise  to  repay  loan  is  self-­‐defeating  if  universalized  
16.  Rules  must  be  reversible  
a)  Can’t  make  exceptions  to  moral  rules  just  for  oneself  
b)  If  you  think  it  is  right  to  do  something  to  someone  else,  then  you  must  think  it  would  be  
right  for  them  to  do  it  to  you  (in  similar  circumstances)  
c)  Examples  
(i)  If  I  think  it  is  right  to  drink  all  your  beer  without  asking  you,  then  I  must  also  think  it  
right  that  you  drink  all  my  beer  w/o  asking  me  
(ii)  Charity:  If  it  is  right  for  me  as  a  rich  person  to  not  give  to  a  poor  person,  then  I  
must  think  it  right  that  if  I  was  a  poor  person  it  would  be  right  for  rich  people  to  give  
me  nothing  as  well  
17.  Problem  of  which  rule  to  try  to  universalize  
a)  Kant  thought  there  was  an  absolute  prohibition  on  lying  because  one  could  not  
universalize  lying  (for  doing  so  would  be  self-­‐defeating-­‐no  one  would  believe  lies  if  there  
was  universal  law  permitting  lying)  
b)  But  perhaps  one  can  universalize  “lying  to  save  an  innocent  person’s  life”  
18.  Kant’s  argument  from  unexpected  consequences  and  responsibility  for  the  bad  
consequences  of  one’s  lies  
a)  The  case  of  the  inquiring  murderer:  A  friend  tells  you  he  is  going  home  to  hide  from  a  
murderer.    The  murder  comes  and  asks  you  if  your  friend  is  at  his  home.    Should  you  lie  or  
tell  the  truth?  
b)  Kant  says  tell  the  truth  
(i)  For  you  can’t  know  whether  or  not  your  friend  is  really  at  home  
(ii)  Avoid  the  known  evil  (lying)  and  let  the  consequences  come  as  they  may  
(iii)  And  if  he  is  not  at  home  and  you  lied  and  the  murder  found  him  outside  his  home,  
you’d  be  responsible  (in  part)  for  his  death  
c)  Rachels’  response:  
(i)  We  often  can  know  what  the  consequences  of  our  acts  will  be  
(ii)  Kant  ignores  that  one  is  also  responsible  for  the  consequences  of  telling  the  truth  
as  well  as  the  consequences  of  lying  
19.  Argument  against  absolute  moral  rules:  Cases  of  conflict  in  absolute  moral  rules  
a)  Sometimes  moral  rules  conflict  with  each  other  and  if  they  are  absolute  (exceptionless)  
we  end  up  with  a  contradiction;  one  of  them  must  have  an  exception  (not  be  absolute)  
b)  Example:  Dutch  captains  smuggling  Jewish  refugees  to  England  were  asked  by  Nazi  
patrol  boats  where  they  were  going  and  who  was  aboard  
(i)  Two  rules  
(1)        Wrong  to  lie  
(2)        Wrong  to  facilitate  the  murder  of  innocent  people  
(ii)  A  theory  of  morality  that  absolutely  prohibits  both  is  incoherent  
21.  Violating  morality  is  not  only  immoral  but  irrational  
a)  Morality  and  rationality  are  tied  
b)  Moral  judgments  must  be  backed  by  good  reasons  (Rachels  account  of  morality)  
22.  Good  reasons  are  one’s  consistently  applied  
a)  One  can’t  think  something  is  a  good  reason  in  one  case  and  then  deny  it  is  a  good  
reason  in  another  case  (that  is  relevantly  similar)  
b)  Examples:  
(i)  If  the  full  reason  it  is  okay  for  me  to  have  sex  outside  of  marriage  is  because  I  love  
the  other  person  
(ii)  Consistency  then  requires  me  to  say  that  gay  sex  outside  of  marriage  is  okay  too  if  
the  gay  couple  love  each  other  
c)  Reasons  can’t  be  accepted  sometimes  and  not  other  times;  they  can’t  apply  to  others  
but  not  to  me  
23.  Kant’s  mistake  was  to  think  that  consistency  implied  absolute  (exceptionless)  moral  rules  
a)  But  it  does  not  
b)  All  consistency  requires  is  that  if  we  advocate  violating  a  rule  in  one  case  for  a  particular  
reasons  (lie  to  save  an  innocent  person),  then  we  must  be  willing  to  accept  that  reason  for  
violating  the  rules  in  other  similar  cases.  
Rachels,  Ch  10:  Kant  and  Respect  For  Persons  
24.  Humanity  as  special  and  unique  
a.  Humans  are  essentially  different  
b.  And  better  than  all  other  creatures  
25.  Humans  have  
a.  An  intrinsic  worth  (intrinsic  value)  
b.  A  dignity  
c.  A  value  above  all  price  
d.  An  absolute  value  not  comparable  to  the  value  of  anything  else  
e.  We  are  irreplaceable;  mere  things  are  replaceable  
26.  In  contrast,  animals  are  a  mere  means  to  human  ends  
a.  They  have  no  intrinsic  value  
b.  Animals  value  is  merely  instrumental  value  toward  human  ends  
c.  The  “traditional  view”  Rachels  talked  about  earlier  
27.  Humans  may  not  be  treated  as  having  merely  instrumental  value  
a.  While  using  animals  for  human  ends  is  perfectly  appropriate  
b.  Using  humans  as  a  (mere)  means  to  an  end  is  immoral  
c.  This  is  the  essence  of  immorality  
28.  One:  Humans  are  the  creators  of  the  value  of  other  things  
a.  Because  of  our  desires  and  goals,  other  things  have  value  for  us,  in  relation  to  our  
b.  Mere  things  (including  animals-­‐who  Kant  felt  can’t  have  self-­‐conscious  desires  and  
goals)  have  value  only  in  relation  to  those  human  ends  
 i.    Their  value  involves  being  means  to  human  ends,  which  give  them  their  value  
(instrumental  value)  
 ii.  E.g.,  value  of  car  or  chair  dependent  on  its  ability  to  serve  some  end  of  human  
beings,  so  too  with  animals  
c.  Problem:  Animal  desires  can  also  create  instrumental  value  in  other  things:  
 i.    Dog  wants  the  bone  or  the  water;  that  gives  the  bone  or  water  instrumental  value  
 (1)  Kant  thinks  desire  not  enough;  you  need  self-­‐conscious  desire  
 ii.  Even  non-­‐conscious  beings  like  trees  can  create  instrumental  value:  Water  has  
instrumental  value  for  the  tree;  it  is  good  for  the  tree  to  get  water.  
29.  Two:  Humans  are  rational  agents  who  have  dignity  (intrinsic  worth)  because  we  can  
a.  Freely  make  own  decisions  
b.  Set  our  own  goals  
c.  Guide  our  conduct  by  reason  
d.  Act  morally  
e.  It  is  probably  true  that  animals  only  do  these  things  at  a  somewhat  diminished  level  
(though  this  is  also  true  of  some  humans)  
30.  Three:  Humans  (as  rational  agents)  bring  moral  value  into  the  world  
a.  Moral  law  is  a  law  of  reason  so  rational  beings  are  the  embodiment  of  moral  law  
b.  Only  way  moral  goodness  can  exist  in  the  world  is  for  rational  creatures  to  apprehend  
what  they  should  do  and  do  it  from  a  sense  of  duty  
c.  Only  acting  out  of  respect  for  duty  has  moral  worth.  
d.  So  if  there  were  no  rational  beings,  moral  dimension  of  world  would  simply  disappear  
e.  Unless  one  thinks  (some)  animals  can  act  out  of  a  sense  of  moral  obligation  or  duty,  it  
seems  true  that  humans  alone  bring  this  type  of  value  into  the  world  
31.  This  is  the  ultimate  principle  of  morality  
a.  1st  version  is:  Act  only  on  principles/rules  that  you  can  universalize  
32.  2nd  version:  Always  treat  humanity  as  an  end  and  never  as  a  mere  means  
a.  “Act  so  that  you  treat  humanity,  whether  in  your  own  person  or  in  that  of  another,  
always  as  an  end  and  never  as  a  means  only.”  
33.  This  involves:  
a.  Have  a  strict  duty  of  beneficence  toward  other  persons  
b.  Must  strive  to  promote  their  welfare  
c.  Must  respect  their  rights  
d.  Must  avoid  harming  them  
e.  Must  try  as  best  we  can  to  further  their  ends  
34.  Treating  humans  as  ends-­‐in-­‐themselves  =  respecting  their  rationality/autonomy  
a.  Thus  one  should  never …
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