Friday, September 23, 2016

Robert Nozick on Kant's Categorical Imperative

In Anarchy, State & Utopia Robert Nozick has said that if Immanuel Kant believed that people are ends and not merely means, he would have given a second formula of the categorical imperative. Here’s the excerpt:
Political philosophy is concerned only with certain ways that persons may not use others; primarily, physically aggressing against them. A specific side constraint upon action toward others expresses the fact that others may not be used in the specific way the side constraint excludes. Side constraints express the inviolability of others, in the ways they specify. These modes of inviolability are expressed by the following injunction: “Don't use people in specified ways.” An end-state view, on the other hand, would express the view that people are ends and not merely means (if it chooses to express this view at all), by different injunction: “Minimize the use in specified ways of persons as means.” Following this percept itself may involve using someone as means in one of the ways specified. Had Kant held this view, he would have given the second formula of the categorical imperative as, “So act as to minimize the use of humanity simply as a means,” rather than the one he actually used: “Act in such away that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”
(Source: Anarchy, State & Utopia by Robert Nozick; Chapter: "State-of-Nature Theory")

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