Kant Essay Questions

s "human dignity" a vacuous concept-a mere placeholder for varying ethical commitments and biases-or has it a useful role to play in bioethics?The former impression is seemingly confirmed by the disparate uses to which "human dignity" is put by opposing sides in contemporary bioethical debates.

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According to the first and most basic version of that imperative, one should act "only according to those maxims [or rules of action] that one could at the same time will to be a universal law." This version of the imperative is often criticized-first and most famously by Hegel-for its empty formalism, and I will not pause here to consider it.

Instead, it will be more fruitful to move to a second version, which commands: Kant derives this second version from the fact that willing requires an end, and in the case of moral willing, an absolute end, or end in itself.

Unlike ends that are "to be acquired by our action," and are thus "conditional" in value-either on our desires or on the contingencies of nature-an end in itself has objective value, or "dignity." Kant had earlier claimed that the only thing "good without limitation" that is possible to think is a good will.

But a good will must have some objective end if it is not to be utterly empty.

Few thinkers on either the right or left, and whether religious or secular, fail to pay him homage.

Creative Writing Topics High School - Kant Essay Questions

Prevailing contemporary views concerning patient "autonomy" and informed consent surely reflect a clear Kantian provenance.An "end in itself " is not "an object that we of ourselves actually make our end"; it is, rather, in Kant's words, the "objective" end that serves as a "supreme [limiting] condition" upon whatever ends we have.The most clear-cut cases of Kantian "respect" for humanity involve not using others in ways whose ends they cannot formally share-i.e., by not acting on them without their own consent.Autonomy, in the sense of choice, and the deference that in her view it commands, would indeed suffice.Whatever adults consent to (with a somewhat hazier provision for children and other "dependents") would set the bioethical standard. Duties toward oneself (and toward others in matters where consent is impossible or otherwise has no immediate bearing) are more complicated but no less essential to a full understanding of what the claims of "human dignity," in his view, require of us. For Christine Korsgaard, it is the sheer capacity to set ends; Kant himself seems to speak of it in two ways.The concept of "dignity" gains much of its moral force from its insistence upon an absolute limit to the fungibility of human goods.If something has intrinsic worth, or dignity, then not all values are homogenous.As I hope to show, one need not be a strict Kantian to find many of his arguments helpful in supplying common ground to citizens of otherwise diverse moral and religious views.The key to such a retrieval lies in giving Kant's notion of "humanity" as This manner of speaking has particular resonance in a commercial society like ours, in which almost all goods are commodified or seem capable of becoming so.Hobbes had infamously insisted that "a man's worth" is the same as his "price," or the "amount that would be paid for the use of his power." Kant's concept of human dignity is a direct rejoinder to that claim.The ultimate basis of that rejoinder is what Kant calls the categorical imperative-the implicit moral command to which the voice of conscience, in his view, testifies.


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