FREEDOM AND THE SOURCE OF VALUE: KORSGAARD AND WOOD ON KANT'S FORMULA OF HUMANITY

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Abstract

Abstract: This essay examines two interpretations of Kant's argument for the formula of humanity. Christine M. Korsgaard defends a constructivist reading of Kant's argument, maintaining that humans must view themselves as having absolute value because their power for rational choice confers value on their ends. Allen Wood, however, defends a realist interpretation of Kant's argument, maintaining that humans actually are absolutely valuable and that their choices do not confer value but rather reflect their understanding of how the objects of their choices fulfill their needs and wants and contribute to their flourishing. Though Korsgaard's reading is more consistent with Kant's prioritizing of the right over the good, this essay raises a metaethical question regarding her constructivist position, namely, “What is meant by her claim that rational choice ‘confers’ value on objects?” In developing this question, it presents a realist account of goodness that is taken from Peter Geach's “Good and Evil.”

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