Moral Equality and Natural Inferiority

Social Theory and Practice 31 (3):379-404 (2005)
Authors
Laurence Thomas
Syracuse University
Abstract
This essay is a commentary upon "Race and Kant" by Thomas Hill, Jr and Bernard Boxill. They argue that although Kant in his anthropological writings took blacks to be inferior, his moral theory requires that they be shown the proper moral respect since blacks are persons nonetheless. I argue that this argument is sound, because the conception of inferiority that Kant attributed to blacks does not permit showing them the proper moral respect. Imagine a defective Mercedes Benz and a Ford Pinto. These two cars are not inferior in the same sort of way. For Kant, I argue, the inferiority of blacks is more akin to that of a Ford Pinto; for he undoubtedly took blacks to be perpetual children. Chilren are persons, too; however, no one has ever supposed that moral theory applies to children in the full way that it applies to adults.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Social and Political Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract200531315
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