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The Value of Humanity in Kant's Moral Theory$
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Richard Dean

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199285723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199285721.001.0001

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The Textual Dispute, and Arguments in Favour of Minimal Readings

The Textual Dispute, and Arguments in Favour of Minimal Readings

Chapter:
(p.64) 4 The Textual Dispute, and Arguments in Favour of Minimal Readings
Source:
The Value of Humanity in Kant's Moral Theory
Author(s):

Richard Dean (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199285721.003.0004

Commentators more or less universally agree that the ‘humanity’ that must be treated as an end in itself is not literally membership in the human species, but rather some minimal form of ‘rational nature’ possessed by all typical adult humans. But there is more disagreement than is generally recognized about exactly what aspect of rational nature qualifies someone as an end in herself. Although Kant’s texts are not perfectly consistent, the most justified overall reading is that Kant means the end in itself to be the will of a being committed to morality, rather than the end in itself being just the power to set ends (Willkür), the self-legislation of moral principles through Wille, or the overall capacity to act morally. Many of the texts offered in favor of one of the minimal readings of ‘humanity’ actually favour the good will reading if taken within their larger context, and some key passages favouring the good will reading have been overlooked or minimized.

Keywords:   moral capacity, end in itself, good will, humanity, minimal reading, rational nature, self-legislation, Wille, Willkür

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