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treat people as ends in themselves-why? watch

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    A famous quotation from Kant is that we should treat people as ends in themselves, and not just as a means to an end.
    However wha grounds this?


    In Rawl's social contract theory we are obliged to look at people in such a way in the original position/veil of ignorance, as we might be any of the individuals, so it's in our best interests to make sure the worst off aren't too badly off.
    Whilst there are criticisms of this, such as being utilitarian and wanting a small ammount of people to suffer for the majority happiness (at least for the classic utilitarian, despite most if not all being fans of instrumental liberty) I would argue that in the original position we would want the very bottom to be in a standard of living that we would find acceptable. Whilst that's a little vague, what I mean to say is that there needs are met easily, such as a roof, food, warmth, education (perhaps the latter is down to my own social conditioning).
    With the gamblier criticism that often crops up, I would argue that the odds wouldn't be in the gamblers favour, nor would the risk, and the pay off likely to be poor, furthermore being a gamblier would give everyone else a leverage over them bargining wise, so wouldn't be included (as it somethings that looks exploitative, where other individuals could gain a certain level of control over them).

    However is there anything else that grounds 'treat people as ends in themselves and not just as a means to an end'?

    Edit:
    Even in the original position however, it looks to be we would act in such a way not because we should for any moral purpose, but because it would be in self interest. Which doesn't ground it in morality as much as I thought at first, but instead states how we're likely to act.
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    What does it even mean? When I hire you for a job, I'm clearly treating you as a means to an end, and I don't even see in what sense I'm supposed to treat you as an end.
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    (Original post by birdsong1)
    What does it even mean? When I hire you for a job, I'm clearly treating you as a means to an end, and I don't even see in what sense I'm supposed to treat you as an end.
    Taking me into account. You can treat me as a means as long as you also treat me as an end. Basically don't just exploit me but look at what's in my interests as well.
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    (Original post by there's too much love)
    Taking me into account. You can treat me as a means as long as you also treat me as an end. Basically don't just exploit me but look at what's in my interests as well.
    But what does that mean, don't "just" exploit you?

    Economic theory suggests that I should pay you precisely the least you're willing to accept to do the job. Is that exploitation? Okay, so maybe you're suggesting I should pay you more than that, or give you some other benefits. But just how much, and what other benefits, until I'm not "just" exploiting you? (I mean, technically, if I pay you even a pence more, I'm not "just" exploiting you, as I'm taking your interests a little into account.)
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    From what I can remember, Kant's main point that grounds this was about rationality
    In recognising that other humans have a rational nature, and can reason, is grounds enough to treat them as ends (with their own interests and preferences) rather merely as means to your own ends. In doing the latter, you are ignoring their rationality which is an imperfect duty.

    This is what's behind maxims such as 'do not lie'. In lying, you are not treating that person as a rational being.

    Why should we respect someone else's rationality? Well, that's another question...
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    (Original post by elwoodc)
    From what I can remember, Kant's main point that grounds this was about rationality
    In recognising that other humans have a rational nature, and can reason, is grounds enough to treat them as ends (with their own interests and preferences) rather merely as means to your own ends. In doing the latter, you are ignoring their rationality which is an imperfect duty.

    This is what's behind maxims such as 'do not lie'. In lying, you are not treating that person as a rational being.

    Why should we respect someone else's rationality? Well, that's another question...
    So it's because people are rational, but as you point out at the end, that's still not grounded.
    Another question is what does being rational have to do with being an end? How does it relate to that?
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    (Original post by there's too much love)
    So it's because people are rational, but as you point out at the end, that's still not grounded.
    Another question is what does being rational have to do with being an end? How does it relate to that?
    To answer your second question first, recognising someone as rational, with autonomy, is in contradiction with the idea of them being something that can be 'used', like an object, as a means to an end.

    Why we should respect someone's rationality... I guess that stems from the idea that we should treat people how we'd like to be treated. We don't want to be exploited, or used as a means, so don't treat others like that. We all have rationality, therefore we can empathise with how others might feel. We all want to be in control of our lives, and not to be used as if we cannot think for ourselves.
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    (Original post by elwoodc)
    To answer your second question first, recognising someone as rational, with autonomy, is in contradiction with the idea of them being something that can be 'used', like an object, as a means to an end.
    I don't see that as a contradiction. To see someone as something as rational does not equate to them not being able to be used. Take for example sweat shop workers. Clearly most if not all are capable of rational thought, we know all this, however that doesn't stop us from using them as a means to our own gain and nothing more. And whilst popular opinion may or may not be that we should or shouldn't do that that wouldn't mean that popular opinion is valid or correct.
    Regardless I think companies would continue to exploit others in such a way unless it started losing profit.

    Why we should respect someone's rationality... I guess that stems from the idea that we should treat people how we'd like to be treated. We don't want to be exploited, or used as a means, so don't treat others like that. We all have rationality, therefore we can empathise with how others might feel. We all want to be in control of our lives, and not to be used as if we cannot think for ourselves.
    But lets say I'm in a powerful position where others can't treat me in such a way but I can treat them as such. Just because I wouldn't want it to happen to me doesn't mean that I shouldn't do it to others.
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    (Original post by there's too much love)
    But lets say I'm in a powerful position where others can't treat me in such a way but I can treat them as such. Just because I wouldn't want it to happen to me doesn't mean that I shouldn't do it to others.
    I think the point of not doing to others what you wouldn't want done to yourself is more a matter of principle relying on human empathy than of actually avoiding harm to yourself. So even if you weren't possibly going to be harmed, you'd (supposedly) still not want to harm the other because of your knowledge of what that would be like if it could happen to you.
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    (Original post by binglebongle)
    I think the point of not doing to others what you wouldn't want done to yourself is more a matter of principle relying on human empathy than of actually avoiding harm to yourself. So even if you weren't possibly going to be harmed, you'd (supposedly) still not want to harm the other because of your knowledge of what that would be like if it could happen to you.

    But a person in such a position would need to rely on human empathy of avoiding harm to themselves. Because they're in such a powerful position.
    That seems to take a Hobbesian view though, which I think is more logical. Instead of Kantian.
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    (Original post by there's too much love)
    But a person in such a position would need to rely on human empathy of avoiding harm to themselves. Because they're in such a powerful position.
    That seems to take a Hobbesian view though, which I think is more logical. Instead of Kantian.
    Not if they are in 'a powerful position where others can't treat me in such a way', which is what I meant to refer to.
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    (Original post by binglebongle)
    Not if they are in 'a powerful position where others can't treat me in such a way', which is what I meant to refer to.
    :facepalm2: = my typing.
    I meant to type "wouldn't need to rely on human empathy".
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    Ah, I think you misunderstood me then. I meant that the rule relies on the existence of human empathy in the powerful man, not that the powerful man would rely on it.
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    (Original post by binglebongle)
    Ah, I think you misunderstood me then. I meant that the rule relies on the existence of human empathy in the powerful man, not that the powerful man would rely on it.
    But even if you have empathy, that doesn't mean you should pay attention to it.
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    (Original post by there's too much love)
    But even if you have empathy, that doesn't mean you should pay attention to it.
    No, but it means you will. I'd say the golden rule is more an encouragement to follow your natural humanity in that sense than a claim to rationalism. The Bible's morality is more worldly, more practical.
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    (Original post by binglebongle)
    No, but it means you will. I'd say the golden rule is more a reminder of your natural humanity in that sense than a claim to rationalism. The Bible's morality isn't really based on logic, so using it for that means is misleading.
    Not necessarily, if I don't like empathy in certain situations I'll just ignore it.
    Unless you're trying to say that the people who run sweat shops, who approve of them, who buy sweat shop made clothes, don't feel empathy?
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    Well, empathy can clearly break down at a distance - people who buy the clothes are so distanced from the actual sweatshops that their empathy isn't activated - hence, in fact, the Biblical reminder. Ironically, if empathy always worked, we wouldn't need to be reminded!

    So yes, I'm glad to admit that there exist both people who, and situations in which, we fail to feel empathy. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't (morally) feel it - I'd say it's a flaw in you to allow yourself to be distanced, not in the correctness of empathy.
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    (Original post by binglebongle)
    Well, empathy can clearly break down at a distance - people who buy the clothes are so distanced from the actual sweatshops that their empathy isn't activated - hence, in fact, the Biblical reminder. Ironically, if empathy always worked, we wouldn't need to be reminded!

    So yes, I'm glad to admit that there exist both people who, and situations in which, we fail to feel empathy. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't feel it - I'd say it's a flaw in you to allow yourself to be distanced, not in the correctness of empathy.
    Yes and the people who run and manage sweat shops?
    Furthermore I didn't say you shouldn't feel it. Just that I don't see a reason why you should feel it.
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    (Original post by there's too much love)
    Yes and the people who run and manage sweat shops?
    Furthermore I didn't say you shouldn't feel it. Just that I don't see a reason why you should feel it.
    People who run them I guess are distanced (though i've never run one...) but in a different way - by money, thinking the workers don't matter etc. Distance isn't meant in just a physical or geographical sense.

    As for why you should feel empathy, again I'd say that that the point of the rule is as a reminder rather than as a logical constraint - so there is no 'should' in the sense you're looking for. It works because it pulls on human emotions.
 
 
 
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