kant categorical imperative 3.docx

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Peter King

CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE 3 [1] Kant argues that moral agents have intrinsic worth as the sorts of beings capable of acting rightly; hence they have to be treated with dignity, and they cannot be used instrumentally. He reformulates the Categorical Imperative along these lines as follows: (C3) Ends in Themselves. Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether 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 [in itself]. Intuitively, Kant wants to prohibit us from (merely) „using‟ one another—as we might say, from depersonalizing or even from dehumanizing others by treating them as mere means to other ends. Think of manipulation, enslavement, backstabbing, exploitation, and so on. [2] Kant holds that (C3) is equivalent to (C1) and (C2), but we won‟t worry about the details. Instead, let‟s see how he recasts his famous four examples in light of (C3): • The Lying Promise. Someone who makes a lying promise is using the person to whom he lies as a mere means to acquire the money he needs. Not surprisingly, Kant thinks (C3) renders the same results as (C1) and (C2). What‟s interesting is that some of the cases seem much more plausible given one formulation rather than another of the Categorical Imperative. [3] The root idea here is what Kant calls autonomy—the moral agent as someone who is a „selflegislating‟ being, who stands under moral laws (universal laws) by his or her own choice. To do otherwise is to be guilty of „heteronymy‟: shuffling off moral responsibility to another, as when “I was just following orders!” Each of us, Kant holds, is responsible for his or her own moral actions. In fact, Kant thinks that as moral agents, human beings are radically responsible— there is no permissible way to avoid moral responsibility for any of your actions. Indeed, seeking to avoid responsibility is itself an immoral act, an act in bad faith. . Why is it wrong to lie? Because lying violates a duty one has to oneself never to offend the humanity in oneself. (2) Lying is a violation of a duty to oneself because it off
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