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Lecture 9

Lecture 9.docx

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Julia Nefsky

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Lecture 9 – Feb. 6 The Fundamental Principle of Morality according to Kant, Proposal #2 The Principle of Humanity: Always treat a human (yourself being included) as an end, and never as a mere means.” (p. 159) Means versus Mere Means Treating someone as a means: • Making use of someone to get what you want Treating someone as a mere means: • Treating someone as though they are only there to help you get what you want • Treating someone as though they only have instrumental value The Principle of Humanity It’s not there is anything wrong with treating someone as a means • We use people as means all the time; this is part of what it is to live in society together What impermissible is treating someone as a mere means • One must not treat people as though they are merely there to serve you (or others) Always Treat Humans as Ends Treating someone as an end = treating them with the respect they deserve An end = something valuable in itself; something intrinsically valuable • Compatible with treating as a means, but not with treating as mere means By ‘Human Beings’, Kant means: Beings who have the capacities for rational, autonomous agency Humanity as an End Treating a human being with the respect they deserve (as an end) requires respecting her rationality and autonomy Example: Lying Promise By making a lying promise (that I will pay you back), I am deceiving you into doing what I want. • Does not respect your autonomy • I’m not allowing you to make up your own mind Example: Slavery By definition, slavery does not respect the autonomy of the enslaved • Slavery treats the oppressed without regard for their own goals and hopes” (p. 161) • So slavery is intrinsically wrong, according to Kant Duties to Aid the Poor Respecting people as rational, autonomous agents requires than just not doing things Example: Victims of famine • Cannot pursue their own projects and goals • Treating them as ends requires helping to make it possible for them to live their lives on their own terms Potential Problems with the Principle of Humanity Problem 1: Indeterminancy? • What exactly does it take to not treat people as mere means in typical cases of using others as means? Problem 2: Infants, non-human animals, and the severely mentally disabled • If it is our capacities for rational autonomous agency that make us worthy of being treated as ends, what does this say about beings that do not possess these capacities? UNIT 2 – Skeptical Challenges to Morality Isn’t what is right and wrong relative to one’s culture? Isn’t morality just a matter of personal opinion? Given a scientific picture of the world, how could there be such a thing as right and wrong? Can there be morality without God? Psychological Egoism “The doctrine that the only thing anyone is capable of desiring or pursuing ultimately (as an end in itself) is his own self-interest.” (Feinberg, p.80) Denies the possibility of altruistic actions – actions aimed at benefiting others for their own sake It does not deny that people sometimes desire things other than their own welfare – e.g. the happiness of others But it says that people only desire such things as a means to their own happiness A descriptive theory about human psychology – not a normative theory Psychological Egoism and Morality A standard assumption: ought implies can If that’s right, psychological egoism poses a challenge to morality: • If it is humanly impossible to do anything other than what you think is in your own self-interest, then it doesn’t make sense to say that you ought to do anything else Arguments for Psychological Egoism Feinberg discusses four popular arguments for psychological egoism Argument 1 “Every action of mine is prompted by motive or desires or impulses which are my motives and not somebody else’s.” So, “I am always pursuing something for myself or seeking my own satisfaction.” (p. 81) Critique of the argument: • P1 – all of my voluntary are prompted by my motives, ra
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