Discussion Summary on Kant & O’Neill

  1. What do you think of the scenario on the famine agencies problem? Is it acceptable like Kant says for them to use each other as long there is no manipulation? Do you agree or disagree?

In the text, there is an example provided where a government agrees to “provide food to famine-relief agencies [where] both uses and is used by the agencies, a peasant who sells food in a local market both uses and is used by those who buy the food.” (pg. 260) Kant says this is acceptable because there is consent in between those transactions because they are not deceiving each other, therefore, it is not considered mere means.

In class discussion:

Since there are no manipulations, there is nothing that makes it lead to it being considered mere means, so it is acceptable. People are economists, and since these transactions are made without any of the members deceiving each other, it is fair. We do agree with Kant’s view on this scenario.

2. If someone were to be dead, and you take something from them for the greater good to help someone else without their consent (since they are dead), is it acceptable?

Since the person is dead, it is universalized, therefore it would be acceptable in this first part of the case. The consent part is the missing act for this to be acceptable because without it, you are using the person as mere means. So, it will not be acceptable, since the person isn’t able to give any opinion on the whole situation nor, provide a answer.

In class discussion:

We do agree that it is acceptable to an extent because the person is already dead, and if the dead person has something, such as an organ that could be used to save someone, it should be done. This makes it universalized, but since the second part of Kant’s perspectives is on mere means, this would reject this. Without having a fully consent from the person, you are considered to be using them as mere ends.