Why must we threat humanity with respect? Evaluating the regress argument

-- Immanuel Kant (Kant 1990, p. 46/429) The idea that our most basic duty is to treat each other with respect is one of the Enlightenment’s greatest legacies and Kant is often thought to be one of its most powerful defenders. If Kant’s project were successful then the lofty notion that humanity is always worthy of respect would be vindicated by pure practical reason. Further, this way of defending the ideal is supposed to reflect our autonomy, insofar as it is always one’s own reason that demands that one treat humanity with respect. In this article, I consider what I take to be one of the most important and compelling attempts to defend the Kantian project. I draw the disappointing conclusion that this attempt does not succeed. The reasons this attempt fails shed some light on the difficulties facing any attempt to defend the Kantian project.
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