Introduction to Ethics Lecture Notes
For the paper:
Principle of Utility (Utilitarian’s principle), Principle of Universalizability, the Principle of
Humanity (Latter two are Kantian principles)
Principle of Humanity
Kant has some things in his theory that are inherently morally wrong
Is slavery inherently wrong? Why:
• Utilitarian: No, if the consequences on the whole were better than a society without it
then we’d have to say it was not morally objectionable
• Kantian: Yes, it is always wrong because it violates autonomy and respect for rational
Principle of Humanity: always treat a human being (including yourself) as an end never as a
• What does it mean to treat something as “mere means”?
• What does it mean to treat something as an “end in itself”?
• To treat someone as an “end” means respecting that individual because of her autonomy
and rationality. To treat them as a “mere means” is to use them only for our own purposes
(even if those purposes are “good”)
• Kant’s principle of humanity implies that we should never knowingly deceive a person.
• Because in deceiving them we are bypassing their own autonomy and reasons forming
capacities and thus treating them as a mere means.
• Note: deception is wrong even if our intention is to help the person or bring about a
• Are children rational autonomous beings? Perhaps not
The Importance of Autonomy and Rationality
• Explains the immorality of “fanatic”
• Explains why slavery and rape are always immoral
• Explains what’s wrong with paternalism
• Explains the basis of universal human rights
• Explains why we can justifiably hold people morally responsible
• Explains why punishment is justified (