The Value of Humanity in Kant's Moral Theory

The Value of Humanity in Kant's Moral Theory

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The humanity formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative demands that we treat humanity as an end in itself. Because this principle resonates with currently influential ideals of human rights and dignity, contemporary readers often find it compelling, even if the rest of Kant's moral philosophy leaves them cold. Moreover, some prominent specialists in Kant's ethics recently have turned to the humanity formulation as the most theoretically central and promising
principle of Kant's ethics. Nevertheless, despite the intuitive appeal and the increasingly recognized philosophical importance of the humanity formulation, it has received less attention than many other, less central, aspects of Kant's ethics. Richard Dean offers the most sustained and systematic
examination of the humanity formulation to date.

Dean argues that the 'rational nature' that must be treated as an end in itself is not a minimally rational nature, consisting of the power to set ends or the unrealized capacity to act morally, but instead is the more properly rational nature possessed by someone who gives priority to moral principles over any contrary impulses. This non-standard reading of the humanity formulation provides a firm theoretical foundation for deriving plausible approaches to particular moral issues - and,
contrary to first impressions, does not impose moralistic demands to pass judgment on others' character. Dean's reading also enables progress on problems of interest to Kant scholars, such as reconstructing Kant's argument for accepting the humanity formulation as a basic moral principle, and allows for
increased understanding of the relationship between Kant's ethics and supposedly Kantian ideas such as 'respect for autonomy'.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 157.5 x 236.2 x 22.9mm | 567g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199285721
  • 9780199285723

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Review quote

Dean's book is certainly both challenging and stimulating . . . Dean brings the issue of reconciling the unconditional value of the good will and the value of humanity as an end in itself to the fore, and this should inspire further moral enquiries of a sort that will be good not only for Kantian ethics, but for ethics and applied ethics in general. * Patrick R. Frierson, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * an original, challenging and unorthodox book... a rich and stimulating book which will reward not just Kant scholars, but also anyone interested in moral philosophy. * Lucy Allais, Times Literary Supplement * Richard Dean's ambitious and uncommonly well-written book...has the virtue of being accessible to readers not already immersed in Kant scholarship while at the same time raising stimulating challenges for those who are...a rich book with subtle and thoughtful discussion of a variety of topics in Kant's practical philosophy. * William J. Fitzpatrick, Mind Journal *
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