Visiting Speakers

Sarah Buss (University of Michigan)

Friday, May 7, 2010, 4:00 p.m., 607 Dale Hall Tower. Everyone is welcome!

The Value of Humanity

It is widely thought that there is something about human beings that grounds their moral obligations to each other.  Human beings, it is said, have a value "beyond price"; they have a value to which we cannot do justice without treating them as constraints on our own ends and means.  But what justifies this assumption?  What is it about human beings that gives them a special moral status?  If any capacities account for the value of humanity, it would seem to be sentience and rationality. But what, exactly, is the connection supposed to be?  In answer to this question I argue that the value of sentience and rationality is instrumental, but that we cannot do justice to this value without treating human beings as more than mere means to our ends.