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Kant and intrinsic worth

  1. Oct 8, 2004 #1
    Are there some situations where we are justified in
    using someone as a means to an end and disregarding their intrinsic worth?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2004 #2
    I don't know, are there? someone will use someone else as a means to an end and another person won't. that's because we value individually.

    our societies are represented and governed, by the prevailing group that, simply said, has "the most in common". there is something like a treshold within the society that dictates this rule.

    so i will think on your question and let's say 10 other will. the anwsers will differ as much as psychology of the individual and as much as the societies they come from.

    so rather think about who are you asking this question, you'll get a more sincere anwser and you'll also be able to view it on the widescreen.
  4. Oct 8, 2004 #3


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    Really? I hadn't noticed.
  5. Oct 8, 2004 #4


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    Eeh, how do you use your hairdresser or the cashier down at the chemist's?
    I, for one, am not passionately concerned with their intrinsic worth..
    (I want the job done, not much more than that.)
    Am I evil?
  6. Oct 8, 2004 #5
    You misunderstand Kant. He never claimed that we ought not use people as a means to an end. He claimed that we ought not use people as a mere means to an end. When I visit the doctor, I use the doctor as a means to the end of my health. But I do not treat him in a manner to which he cannot consent. When the doctor and I enter into an agreement (his services for my payment) we are both exercising our autonomy. Neither of us is being coerced or decieved. We both are acting in a manner to which the other can consent. This contract passes the Universalization test specified by Kant's first formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Imagine I held the doctor at gunpoint and demanded treatment. Under these circumstance, I'm taking the option to consent, to enter into an agreement with me, substantially out of the doctor's hands. I am coercing him. This is an example of failing to respect the autonomy of another, and hence of treating another as a mere means to an end (thus violating the second forumlation of the Categorical Imperative, the "Formula of Humanity").

    The question you want to ask is: Is it ever permissible to treat someone as a mere means to an end? Try to imagine if it is ever permissible to act paternalistically; decieiving or coercing another with their best interests at heart. If paternalism is ever justified, then Kant must modify his position encapsulated in the Forumla of Humanity.
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