Corinna Albers Dissertation

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Hence, dignity as well as value are concepts that are essential to Kant’s ethics; although dignity is strongly related and, in some sense to be specified, even based on the concept of law and lawgiving, it evidence that speaks in favor of the standard reading, it is up to them to show we have reason to think that this reading is wrong nonetheless.

The underlying question – is value or dignity in Kant’s ethics the most fundamental moral property or is this property subordinate to the formal law itself – should be of interest not only to Kant scholars.

These beings have no inclinations and desires contrary to the good; the “will whose maxims necessarily harmonize with the laws of autonomy is a , absolutely good will” (439,28).

The noumenally-good will as such (regardless of its being incorporated in a finite being) cannot be differentiated from the holy will (regardless of its being incorporated in an infinite being).

His basic answer is this: “It is not because others have a value that we should respect them, but it is because one should respect them that they have an importance and a dignity”.

Furthermore, some defenders of the traditional reading understand Kant’s theory of value in terms of moral realism, others have a rather constructivist approach, but still hold on to the concept of value and dignity.For imperfect beings, to act morally (to act with a practically-good will) means to act from duty.The noumenally-good will that is manifest in a person without (active) sensual hindrances is what Kant calls the ‘holy will’; it only belongs to God and other holy (infinite) beings.For Kant uses the term ‘autonomy’ not only for the human being and its capacity for a practically-good will, but also for the property of the noumenally-good will, just considered by duty, then we consider ourselves as belonging to the world of sense and yet at the same time to the world of understanding” (453,14, o.e.).Thus the free will is the noumenal will, and autonomy is its property; and in some contexts, this will is The concept of ‘autonomy’ is strongly related to the concepts of ‘end in itself’ and ‘rational nature’, and yet it in GMS II Kant says very little about what exactly an ‘end in itself’ is and what ‘rational nature’ means., Kant famously distinguishes between animality, humanity, and personality, and it has been a recurring misinterpretation to ascribe to Kant the position that humanity as the ability to set ends is what deserves respect.This ‘inner worth’ is also called here “dignity” (Fey: 1319).Thus, when it comes to be an end in itself, the relevant rationality is rationality and thus autonomy.It is also quite obvious from this lecture that a being is not an end in itself simply because it is rational and capable of setting ends: “If rational beings alone can be ends in themselves, they cannot be so because they have reason, but because they have freedom. – Through reason the human being could produce in accordance with universal laws of nature, without freedom, what the animal produces through instinct” (Fey: 1321–1322).Only if a rational being is free in the positive sense that this freedom is “a law for itself” (Fey: 1322) is such a being an end in itself and possess value: “The inner worth of the human being rests upon his freedom, upon the fact that he has a will of his own” (Fey: 1319).(1784) it becomes clear that it is freedom of the will which makes human beings ends in themselves: “The freedom of the human being is the condition under which the human being himself can be an end” (Fey: 1320).Or again: “I must presuppose the freedom of this being if it is to be an end in its own eyes” (Fey: 1322).


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