1. London
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    14 Oct '05 08:33
    The second formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative runs thus:

    "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."*

    Presumably, Kant had in mind slavery, exploitation of industrial labour and colonisation at the time he devised this formulation. What modern acts might violate this imperative?

    Would the use of prostitutes, or the use of pornographic material be such instances?

    ---
    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_Imperative#The_second_formulation
  2. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    14 Oct '05 08:44
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    "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."
    Suppose you were bent on achieving the destruction of humanity--wouldn't this statement suit your purposes just as well as it would someone out to do good?
  3. London
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    14 Oct '05 09:12
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Suppose you were bent on achieving the destruction of humanity--wouldn't this statement suit your purposes just as well as it would someone out to do good?
    I have asked this question before. Perhaps bbarr is the best person to argue against this.
  4. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    14 Oct '05 09:15
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    I have asked this question before. Perhaps bbarr is the best person to argue against this.
    Won't you answer my question--pretty please? I'll let it go directly after that and take a ring-side seat in anticipation of the intelligentsia.
  5. Donationbbarr
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    14 Oct '05 09:31
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    The second formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative runs thus:

    "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."*

    Presumably, Kant had in mind slavery, exploitation of industrial labour and colonisation at the time h ...[text shortened]... instances?

    ---
    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_Imperative#The_second_formulation
    No, Kant didn't have slavery in mind. Kant was a racist. Kant thought that black folk couldn't integrate the categorical imperative, but could be taught to act in accord with it. He advocated the use of a bamboo cane in teaching them. He thought that native americans were, quite simply, animals in human form.

    Treating somebody in a manner inconsistent with the formula of humanity involves, in my view, treating them in a manner to which they could not consent. That is, it involves co-opting a persons rational faculties for one's one ends. Whether prostitution or pornography qualifies as coercion will depend on the particulars of the case.
  6. Donationbbarr
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    14 Oct '05 09:35
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Suppose you were bent on achieving the destruction of humanity--wouldn't this statement suit your purposes just as well as it would someone out to do good?
    No, it would not. Treating somebody as an end in and of themselves requires treating their ends as sources of reasons.
  7. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    14 Oct '05 09:391 edit
    Originally posted by bbarr
    Treating somebody as an end in and of themselves requires treating their ends as sources of reasons.
    I humbly confess that I don't know what that means. Could you give an example?

    edit: I think I do now but an example would still be great.
  8. London
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    14 Oct '05 10:291 edit
    Originally posted by bbarr
    No, Kant didn't have slavery in mind. Kant was a racist. Kant thought that black folk couldn't integrate the categorical imperative, but could be taught to act in accord with it. He advocated the use of a bamboo cane in teaching them. He thought that native americans were, quite simply, animals in human form.

    Treating somebody in a manner inconsiste ...[text shortened]... er prostitution or pornography qualifies as coercion will depend on the particulars of the case.
    Treating somebody in a manner inconsistent with the formula of humanity involves, in my view, treating them in a manner to which they could not consent. That is, it involves co-opting a persons rational faculties for one's one ends. Whether prostitution or pornography qualifies as coercion will depend on the particulars of the case.

    Let's suppose I wanted to use a particular prostitute. We know that at least some prostitutes are coerced/forced into accepting clients against their will/desire. It is nearly impossible for me to determine whether this prostitute is one such. I could try asking her, but (if she is being coerced) she will probably deny it out of fear. An investigation into the circumstances of the brothel or bordello is not guaranteed to provide a conclusive answer either. Hence, the only way for me to proceed with the action is to allow the possibility that I am doing so against her will/desire. In other words, I must disregard her ends.

    So it seems to me that the use of a prostitute will always violate the second formulation.

    Is this argument tenable?

    EDIT: A similar argument could be raised with a nude picture or a pornographic video as well.
  9. Donationbbarr
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    14 Oct '05 23:34
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    I humbly confess that I don't know what that means. Could you give an example?

    edit: I think I do now but an example would still be great.
    Sometimes you treat people well merely because it is prudent for you to do so. If you make them happy, you stand to benefit in some way. Their ends are instrumentally related to your ends. Their ends only provide you with reasons for action because they happen to "hook up" appropriately with your ends. But not all relationships are like this. Sometimes, it is an end of yours to see that others successfully pursue their ends. The beloved is important to you not merely because she makes you happy, but because she is the beloved. When you are confronted with the suffering of your beloved, you are confronted with a reason to help.
  10. Donationbbarr
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    14 Oct '05 23:55
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    [b]Treating somebody in a manner inconsistent with the formula of humanity involves, in my view, treating them in a manner to which they could not consent. That is, it involves co-opting a persons rational faculties for one's one ends. Whether prostitution or pornography qualifies as coercion will depend on the particulars of the case.

    Let ...[text shortened]...

    EDIT: A similar argument could be raised with a nude picture or a pornographic video as well.[/b]
    So, your argument goes like this:

    1) Some prostitutes are coerced.
    2) It is really hard to tell which prostitutes are coerced.
    3) If I did hire a prostitute that was being coerced, I would be acting against her wishes.
    4) Acting against someone's wishes violates Kant's forumla of humanity.


    Note that (4) is false. You can act against somebody's wishes while treating them in a manner to which they could consent. Abiding by the formula of humanity does not require that you treat people in a manner to which they would consent, but rather in a manner to which they could consent. This is the test for determining whether an act of yours violates the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative (the universalization test applies to the first formulation, the forumla of universal law). But Kant does not think that this is sufficient for acting well. There are better and worse ways to not violate the Categorical Imperative. There are perfect duties against lying and coercion; these, for Kant, are the most fundamental forms of wrongdoing. But there are also imperfect duties to render aid, to act compassionately, and so on. At the end of the day, I doubt you'll be able to find in Kant a perfect duty not to hire prostitutes, but you may very well find an imperfect duty not to do so.
  11. Standard memberDavid C
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    15 Oct '05 11:44
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Presumably, Kant had in mind slavery, exploitation of industrial labour and colonisation at the time he devised this formulation. What modern acts might violate this imperative?
    Mandatory prayer in public schools?
  12. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    16 Oct '05 05:00
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    The second formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative runs thus:

    "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."*

    Presumably, Kant had in mind slavery, exploitation of industrial labour and colonisation at the time h ...[text shortened]... instances?

    ---
    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_Imperative#The_second_formulation
    This imperative doesn't make much sense to me. Humanity should be an end. Does that mean that we should try to have lots of babies? I don't get it.
  13. Donationbbarr
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    16 Oct '05 20:51
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    This imperative doesn't make much sense to me. Humanity should be an end. Does that mean that we should try to have lots of babies? I don't get it.
    No, the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative does not require making humans. The humanity of which Kant speaks is just our rational faculties, our ability to set our own ends. Respecting the humanity of others involves respecting this capacity. Kant thought that deception and coercion were fundamental moral wrongs because they involve co-opting the ability of others to set their own ends; they involve treating persons like puppets.
  14. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    16 Oct '05 20:59
    Originally posted by bbarr
    No, the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative does not require making humans. The humanity of which Kant speaks is just our rational faculties, our ability to set our own ends. Respecting the humanity of others involves respecting this capacity. Kant thought that deception and coercion were fundamental moral wrongs because they involve co-opting the ability of others to set their own ends; they involve treating persons like puppets.
    So the imperative could be rewritten like this?

    Act in such a way that you always treat [humans' ability to set their own ends], 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.

    Which means one should not deny people options or as much freedom of choice as you can give them; that maximizing such freedom of choice is an objective. Is that how this statement is meant?
  15. Donationbbarr
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    16 Oct '05 21:08
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    So the imperative could be rewritten like this?

    [b]Act in such a way that you always treat [humans' ability to set their own ends], 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.


    Which means one should not deny people options or as much freedom of choice as you can g ...[text shortened]... m; that maximizing such freedom of choice is an objective. Is that how this statement is meant?[/b]
    Simply put, the second formulation is an injunction to respect and foster the autonomy of others. This is defeasible, however, in cases where the ends of others are vicious, or when their rational faculties are impaired. Kant wouldn't think it impermissible to use coercive force in self-defense, or to prevent a person from, say, driving drunk.
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