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Day 79 – Q 4. “Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.” – Immanuel Kant.

4. “Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.” – Immanuel Kant.


Immanuel Kant’s theory of morality, the categorical imperative, states that it is immoral to use another person merely as a means to an end and that people must under all circumstances betreated as ends in themselves. This is in contrast to some interpretations of the utilitarian view, which allow for use of individuals as means to benefit the many.


Kant said that rational human beings should be treated as an end in themselves and not as a means to something else. The fact that we are human has value in itself.If a person is an end-in-themself it means their inherent value doesn’t depend on anything else – it doesn’t depend on whether the person is enjoying their life, or making other people’s lives better. We exist, so we have value.

This idea applies to us too. We shouldn’t treat ourselves as a means to our own ends; instead we should respect our inherent worth. This can be used as an argument against euthanasia, suicide and other behaviors that damage us.

Taking the example of slavery where human beings are treated as “means” for achieving the “ends” that is profit motive. Human intrinsic worth i.e. dignity is not respected and they are exploited for petty gains. This lead to inequality in society where one section of people exploiting other section for self-motive. Some people justify the slavery on the premises that it was based on contract between master and slave. But this argument does not hold ground because slave did not accept to slavery on free will and they might not be in their right state of mind thinking rationally and make a decision.

Another simple example of exam time friendships where one befriends an intelligent student just to take her help to pass exam and then ditch her and go away with old friends after exams. This will hurt the dignity of student as she is just being used as a means to achieve the end. On the other hand they could have been friends for forever enjoying the company of each other and helping each other in times of need. In this case the intrinsic value of intelligent student was respected.


Kant philosophy of human individuals as end in itself endorses the golden rule of “treating others as one’s self would wish to be treated”.  As no one would wish to be used simply as a means, therefore one should not also use other human beings as means to achieve their ends. This philosophy can be of great help in resolving the ethical dilemmas where there is debate between relative importance of means and ends.

Best answer: Point_Nemo

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