Pauline Kleingeld (University of Groningen): "How to Use Someone 'Merely as a Means'"

Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
301 Marx Hall

How to use someone ‘merely as a means’

ABSTRACT: The prohibition on using persons ‘merely as means' is one of the best-known and most influential elements of Immanuel Kant’s moral theory. This moral principle has been invoked in struggles against slavery and other forms of exploitation. It is widely understood to mean that there is an absolute moral limit to what we may do to others (and ourselves) in the service of our ends, no matter how desirable or important these ends may be. It is notoriously difficult, however, to determine more precisely the conditions under which the prohibition is violated. In this paper I aim to develop a plausible account of what it is to use someone merely as a means, and I argue that this account has important advantages over other accounts.

BIO: Pauline Kleingeld is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She taught at Washington University in St. Louis from 1993 until 2004, and at Leiden University from 2004 until she joined Groningen University in 2011. She is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Holland Society of Arts and Sciences.

Her research focus is in ethics and political philosophy, with an emphasis on Kantianism and the work of Immanuel Kant. Her most recent monograph is Kant and Cosmopolitanism: The Philosophical Ideal of World Citizenship (Cambridge University Press, 2012), which won the 2013 NAKS biennial senior scholar book prize.