simplified kant - A Simplified Account of Kant's Ethics...

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A Simplified Account of Kant's Ethics Onora O'Neill 218 As the title suggests, this piece attempts to provide a simplified account of Kant's complex and difficult moral theory, by focusing on the ` formula of humanity"; also known as the `formula of end-in-itself." It does this as part of an effort to assess the advantages of Kantianism as opposed to Utilitarian theory. Kant's moral theory has acquired the reputation of being forbiddingly difficult to understand and, once understood, excessively demanding in its requirements. I don't believe that this reputation has been wholly earned, and I am going to try to undermine it . ......... I shall try to reduce some of the difficulties . ... Finally, I shall compare Kantian and utilitarian approaches and assess their strengths and weaknesses. The main method by which I propose to avoid some of the difficulties of Kant's moral theory is by explaining only one part of the theory. This does not seem to me to be an irresponsible approach in this case. One of the things that makes Kant's moral theory hard to understand is that he gives a number of different versions of the principle that he calls the Supreme Principle of Morality, and these different versions don't look at all like one another. They also don't look at all like the utilitarians' Greatest Happiness Principle. But the Kantian principle is supposed to play a similar role in arguments about what to do. Kant calls his Supreme Principle the Categorical Imperative; its various versions also have sonorous names. One is called the Formula of Universal Law; another is the Formula of the Kingdom of Ends. The one on which I shall concentrate is known as the Formula of the End-in-Itself. To understand why Kant thinks that these picturesquely named principles are equivalent to one another takes quite a lot of close and detailed analysis of Kant's philosophy. I shall avoid this and concentrate on showing the implications of this version of the Categorical Imperative.
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THE FORMULA OF THE END IN ITSELF Kant states the Formula of the End in Itself as follows: Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end. To understand this we need to know what it is to treat a person as a means or as an end. According to Kant, each of our acts reflects one or more maxims. The maxim of the act is the principle on which one sees oneself as acting. A maxim expresses a person's policy, or if he or she has no settled policy, the principle underlying the particular intention or decision on which he or she acts. Thus, a person who decides "This year I'll give 10 percent of my income to famine relief" has as a maxim the principle of tithing his or her income for famine relief. In practice, the difference between intentions and maxims is of little importance, for given any intention, we can formulate the corresponding maxim by deleting references to particular times, places, and persons. In what
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simplified kant - A Simplified Account of Kant's Ethics...

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