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On What MattersVolume Two$
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Derek Parfit

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572816

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199572816.001.0001

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On Humanity as an End in itself

On Humanity as an End in itself

(p.156) 19 On Humanity as an End in itself
On What Matters

Samuel Scheffler

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines a philosophical discussion of Immanuel Kant's insistence that we should treat humanity as an end in itself. It responds to Allen Wood's claim that the ‘most definitive form’ of Kant's supreme principle is his Formula of Autonomy, which becomes another version of Derek Parfit's proposed Kantian Contractualist Formula. It also considers Wood's suggestion that humanity or rational nature has the supreme value that both grounds morality and gives us our reason to obey the moral law, arguing that the supreme value of rational beings is not a kind of goodness but a kind of moral status. This moral status could not be what grounds morality and gives us our reason to obey the moral law. Nor could such a ground be provided by the value of non-moral rationality. But Kant sometimes uses ‘humanity’ to refer to our capacity for morality and for having good wills. The supreme goodness of good wills might be the value that grounds morality. The chapter concludes by analysing Wood's contention that our acts are wrong when and because they fail to respect the value of non-moral rationality.

Keywords:   humanity, Immanuel Kant, Allen Wood, Formula of Autonomy, Contractualist Formula, morality, moral law, non-moral rationality, good wills

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