Poverty, Exploitation, Mere Things and Mere Means

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (2):1-17 (2021)
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Abstract

I argue that, alongside the already well-established prohibition against treating persons as mere means, Kant’s Formula of Humanity requires a prohibition against treating persons as mere things. The former captures ethical violations due to someone’s (perceived) instrumental value, e.g. exploitation, the latter captures cases in which I mistreat others because they have no instrumental value to me. These are cases in which I am indifferent and complacent towards persons in need; forms of mistreatment frequently suffered by the world’s poorest. I explain why we need the category of treating others as mere things and what the prohibition against such treatment entails. Prohibitions against treating as mere means and as mere things are both essential for understanding the specific nature and extent of our duties to the world’s poorest.

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Martin Sticker
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Kant on education and improvement: Themes and problems.Martin Sticker & David Bakhurst - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 55 (6):909-920.
Cooperation – Kantian-style.Jan Willem Wieland - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Kant on the Normativity of Obligatory Ends.Martin Sticker - 2024 - The Journal of Ethics 28 (1):53-73.

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References found in this work

Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Objectification.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1995 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 24 (4):249-291.
How to Use Someone ‘Merely as a Means’.Pauline Kleingeld - 2020 - Kantian Review 25 (3):389-414.
Sweatshops and Respect for Persons.Denis G. Arnold & Norman E. Bowie - 2003 - Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (2):221-242.
Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation.Matt Zwolinski - 2007 - Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (4):689-727.

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