Formal Approaches to Kant's Formula of Humanity


My aim in this paper is to explore different ways of understanding Kant’s Formula of Humanity as a formal principle. I believe that a formal principle for Kant is a principle that is constitutive of some domain of cognition or rational activity. It is a principle that both constitutively guides that activity and serves as its internal regulative norm. In the first section of this essay, I explain why it is desirable to find a way to understand the Formula of Humanity as a formal principle in this sense. In sections II and III I discuss two interpretive approaches to Kant’s idea that rational nature or humanity is an end in itself, both of which may be construed as treating the Formula of Humanity as a formal principle. By focusing on the notion of formal principle, I hope to raise a set of issues about how to understand the idea of rational nature or humanity as an end in itself, and about the relation of the Formula of Humanity [FH] to the Formula of Universal Law [FUL]. I do not resolve the issues in this paper, though I briefly sketch some resolution at the end

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Andrews Reath
University of California, Riverside


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