The Value of Humanity in Kant’s Moral Theory [Book Review]

Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (2):327-328 (2008)

Eric Wilson
Georgia State University
As is well known, Kant presents several versions of the Categorical Imperative in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Traditionally readers have focused on the “universal law” formulation of his famous moral principle. Friends of Kant have found in the FUL an appealingly formal and seemingly rigorous criterion for right action, while foes have found in it a convenient whipping boy. Recently, however, much attention has shifted to the “humanity” formulation of the Categorical Imperative. The shift is motivated partly by a general exhaustion with the FUL and the problems it generates—for example, the emptiness charge, as well as the problem of false positives and false negatives—as well as by a widely accepted commitment to the general idea that every human being is worthy of respect. Scholars such as Thomas E. Hill, Jr., Christine Korsgaard, and Allen Wood have greatly enriched our understanding of Kant’s work by emphasizing the role of the FH in his moral theory
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0006
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