Chapter 10: Kant and Respect for Persons
10.1: Kant’s Core Ideas:
- Kant: though humans occupy a special place in creation
- Humans traditionally thought themselves to be quite fabulous
- Kant: “human beings have an intrinsic worth or dignity that makes them
valuable above all price”
- Kant: “But so far as animals are concerned, we have no direct duties. Animals
are there merely as means to an end. That end is man”
- “We may therefore use animals in any way we please, we don’t have direct
duty to refrain from torturing them” according to this view.
- Kant did condemn the abuse of animals, but not because of the harm that
would be placed on them but because “He who is cruel to animals also
becomes hard in his dealings with men”
- When Kant states that human beings are valuable “above all price” he meant
that people are irreplaceable
- If a child dies this is a tragedy and remains one even if another child is born
into the same family.
- Kant believed that people have dignity that mere things lack; there are two
facts that Kant believes support this judgment.
- 1) People have desires; things that satisfy those desires have value for
people. Therefore mere things only have value if they promote human
desires. (A poker book to a poker player)
- 2) Human beings are the only rational agents that exist on earth; animals
lack free will, and they do not guide their conduct by reason because their
rational capacities are too limited.
- Believed humans are not merely one valuable thing among others. Humans
are the ones who do the valuing.
- Believed that all of our duties can be derived from one ultimate principle,
called the Categorical Imperative
- Categorical Imperative: 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.
- To treat a person as an ends means: treating them well, promote their
welfare, respect their rights, avoid harming them, and treat them with
respect in general.
- Therefore we cannot manipulate people or use people to achieve our goals,
not matter how good those goals may be.
- We should not force adults to do things against their will; instead, we should
let them make their own decisions.
10.2. Retribution and Utilit