XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

The Body as Instrument and as "Person" in Kant's Moral Philosophy

Aaron Bunch

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Fermi
Data: 22 maggio 2010 - 17:00
Ultima modifica: 08 aprile 2010


An account of the human body as a mere instrument of moral agency cannot explain Kant’s duties to oneself as an animal and moral being. To properly account for these duties, the human body must be regarded not merely as the instrument of a moral agent, but as an aspect of the moral agent herself, as a constituent of the indissoluble or “absolute” unity of a human person. The body thereby shares in the dignity of moral personhood, which constrains our treatment of it. The bio-medical ethics literature recognizes Kant’s non-instrumental view in its discussion of the donation and sale of body parts, but does not consider its relevance to Kant’s account of suicide or sexual self-defilement. In closing, I consider briefly whether Kant provides a sufficiently specific criterion for “intrinsically degrading” treatment.