Poverty, Exploitation, Mere Things and Mere Means

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-207
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021

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