Immanuel Kant: The Formula Of Humanity

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When considering how best to apply a moral framework to one’s own life, it can be helpful to look to Immanuel Kant’s book, The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals to inform our actions. It is in this book that Kant develops his moral framework for all humans, and Kant introduces the ideas of a ‘supreme principle of morality’ and his famous ‘categorical imperative’. For the purpose of this paper, I will critically engage with Kant’s ideas surrounding the second formulation of the categorical imperative, the Formula of Humanity. I will begin by explaining what the supreme principle of morality is, and its relation to the Formula of Humanity. From this, I will offer an explanation as to why the Formula of Humanity is a plausible candidate…show more content…
The FH states. “So act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means” (G 4:429). The idea behind the FH is that actions that are morally good contain in them an expression of respect for humanity as an end in itself, while morally bad actions do not contain this respect for humanity, and as such does not treat it as an end. It becomes important to recognize what it was that Kant meant when he was referring to ‘humanity’. Kant’s claims regarding humanity are not speciesist in favour of humans as one might interpret them, but rather is making a claim regarding a capacity for reason. It is through this rationality that an agent is able to identify and set ends for themselves, albeit Kant would probably have believed humans to be the only species capable of such…show more content…
They are: a case against suicide, a lying promise, developing one’s own talents, and helping others (G 4:430). I believe that Kant’s argument for the impermissibility of suicide to be especially strong. Kant says that a person who is contemplating committing suicide must ask of themself if that action is “consistent with the idea of humanity” (G 4:429). The idea here is that in choosing suicide, which is an autonomous choice, a person directs their humanity towards its own destruction. It is by allowing such violence against them that that person is showing disrespect towards their own rational nature. The action of suicide undermines the value assigned to the rational nature, and as a result vacates the grounds for making this choice in the first place. In choosing suicide, a person is treating their own life as merely a means to an end, and not as an end in itself (G
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