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Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft

Ed. by Baum, Manfred / Dörflinger, Bernd / Klemme, Heiner F.

CiteScore 2018: 0.37

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.193
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.972

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Volume 106, Issue 1


Kant on Human Dignity reconsidered

Oliver Sensen
Published Online: 2015-03-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant-2015-0009


The justification for Kant’s dictum to treat oneself and others never merely as a means can be read in very different ways. In this article I respond to comments made by Dieter Schönecker, Jochen Bojanowski, Heiner Klemme and Stefano Bacin on the justification I offer in my book Kant on Human Dignity. In the book I argue against the most popular reading of Kant’s justification, which tries to base the respect one owes to others on a value they possess. In contrast, my view ties Kant’s justification more closely to his theoretical philosophy, and argues that it is based on an a priori law. In my response I clarify several points I made in the book: I spell out how Kant conceives of value as a prescription of reason, why value cannot be the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy as well as whether it needs a special end to motivate moral actions, and what Kant means by ‘end in itself.’ In this article I also enlarge upon the positive account of why one should respect others, and how Kant conceives of this requirement to be based in pure reason. Finally, I offer a modified reading of the traditional paradigm of dignity to which Kant also adheres. Unlike the account I give in the book, I do not believe any longer that in this conception dignity is always connected to a duty to oneself, and I grant that this conception has often been used as an intuitively plausible but incomplete shorthand argument for the requirement to respect others.

Keywords:: Dignity; Value; Respect; Menschenwürde

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Published Online: 2015-03-20

Published in Print: 2015-03-20

Citation Information: Kant-Studien, Volume 106, Issue 1, Pages 107–129, ISSN (Online) 1613-1134, ISSN (Print) 0022-8877, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant-2015-0009.

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