Treating others merely as means

Utilitas 21 (2):163-180 (2009)
In the Formula of Humanity, Kant embraces the principle that it is wrong for us to treat others merely as means. For contemporary Kantian ethicists, this Mere Means Principle plays the role of a moral constraint: it limits what we may do, even in the service of promoting the overall good. But substantive interpretations of the principle generate implausible results in relatively ordinary cases. On one interpretation, for example, you treat your opponent in a tennis tournament merely as a means and thus wrongly when you try, through defeating him, to win first place. The article aims to develop a reconstruction of the Mere Means Principle that has more plausible implications than do rival reconstructions. It sets out a sufficient condition for an agent's treating another merely as a means. This condition is intended to be Kantian, but not necessarily one that Kant endorses.
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820809003458
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