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VulnerabilityNew Essays in Ethics and Feminist Philosophy$
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Catriona Mackenzie, Wendy Rogers, and Susan Dodds

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199316649

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199316649.001.0001

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The Role of Vulnerability in Kantian Ethics

The Role of Vulnerability in Kantian Ethics

(p.88) 3 The Role of Vulnerability in Kantian Ethics

Paul Formosa

Oxford University Press

This essay argues that the fact that humans are vulnerable, needy and dependent beings plays an important role in Kantian ethics. The basis of this argument is to show that the core normative focus of Kantian ethics is on the dignity that human beings have in virtue of their capacity for rational agency. This implies that the empirical conditions under which human beings can acquire, sustain, exercise, and develop their rational capacities are of core moral importance in Kantian ethics. Human vulnerabilities, including the vulnerability of human bodies, are therefore important in Kantian ethics, since rational capacities in human agents (and the bodies those rational capacities depend upon) are highly vulnerable in all persons and especially vulnerable in some sub-groups of persons.

Keywords:   vulnerability, kantian ethics, autonomy, rational agency, dignity

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