Humans Should Be Treated As ‘Ends’ And Not As ‘Means’ Free Essay


Human beings are important creatures with special value intrinsic to their humanity therefore, they deserve to be treated with a lot of respect and their dignity acknowledged since they are human beings. Humans deserve to treat one another with due respect. In his theory of morality The Categorical Imperative, Immanuel Kant asserted that we should treat others in a manner that we would treat our own selves, and as well treat ourselves as we would treat other people (Walden, 2016, p.71). This statement emphasizes the autonomy of an individual whereby he is regarded to be rational. According to Kant, this rational individual needs to be given the highest priority in everything considering him or her in everything and ensuring his human dignity is respected and upheld. Everything should be aimed at benefiting him or her and he or she should not be used as a means of achieving something for someone else. Most of the people who are mindful of others’ wellbeing treat themselves in a manner that they cannot think of doing to other people. Respect for human dignity among humans works both ways and promotes their cohesion and better their lives. Respect for humanity demands a lot but without that respect for oneself and others is contradicting with morality. Some find it okay to treat other people as means to an end in order to achieve something for themselves by using them (Fasoro, 2019, p.225). With regards to human dignity, some find this to be exploitation and disrespectful to human dignity. It still remains a puzzle on whether it is actually possible and advantageous to ensure that human beings are treated as ends and not as means to an end. This paper will discuss whether people or humans should be treated as ends in themselves or as a means to an end.

An end-in-itself

It is a fact that humans have an intrinsic value to themselves, therefore humans’ dignity needs to be respected by treating them as ends in themselves. Kant critically emphasized that humans beings need to be acknowledged and treated as an end in themselves but not as a means of achieving something else. People are an end-in-themselves meaning that their inherent value does not rely on anything else. It does not rely on whether people are enjoying their lives or even enhancing other people’s lives. Human beings exist, so they have value. And since that they have value, they have to be treated as an end in themselves and with high levels of respect (Batavia and Nelson, 2017, p.369). The intrinsic value attached to human’s life and existence warrant humans the need to be treated as an end in themselves. A human’s life matters and highly valuable and when it is lost it is accompanied by a number of repercussions. Therefore, humans should be treated with dignity, promote their well-being and avoid their exploitation to achieve something from them as it will affect their well-being and can eventually lead to loss of life. Lose of human life means loss of value that is very essential in the society which creates a big impact (Orehek and Weaverling, 2017, p.722). Most people agree that we should not undermine other people’s dignity but rather respect them. In a layman’s language, we say that we should not use other people which means that we should not treat others as means to our own ends. In essence, every human being is valuable and deserves their dignity to be upheld by ensuring that we do not use other people in order to achieve something else from them but rather respecting their inherent worth.

People should be treated as an end to themselves because it helps to build respect, courage, confidence which boost one’s dignity. When people are treated with respect without exploiting them, they tend to be more productive since they do things out of passion and whole-heartedly because they know that they are not being used as means to an end. Respect for one’s dignity is a cornerstone to social cohesion and understanding (Batavia and Nelson, 2017, p.371). Treating one as an end in themselves boost their self-confidence and makes them feel appreciated in the society unlike deception of other people for our own gains which is basically treating other people as means and not ends which demoralize them and lowers their self-esteem and self-confidence (Wilson, 2016, p.126). We should not damage one another but instead, we should better ourselves. By treating others as ends to themselves, it helps to better them in terms of self-esteem, self-confidence, dignity and general productivity.

Humans have disposable respect for who they are. Every human being is valuable and is intelligent beings that must be consulted on something that it is needed to be done. People should not be treated by means of coercion or deception in order to commit themselves to do something yet they cannot give consent for. Consent plays a very critical role in this. Humans are dignified creatures and therefore, their consent is needed in order to do something (Fasoro, 2019, p.226). Requesting for their consent is very important as it is a sign of respect. Forcing other people into doing something without their consent through coercion or deception is immoral and lack of respect. Due to the intrinsic value that humans have, people should be treated as ends and their individual consent acknowledged. This helps in creating respect and harmony among people in the society regardless of the social class they belong to.

It is also important to understand that everything that exists on earth was created by God for humans themselves. Every entity on earth is meant to be used by humans to better their lives. This is to mean that humans are the ends. These entities should be used to satisfy the needs of people. Therefore, people should not be used by other people to meet their own achievements. The entities available in the world were provided and meant to be used in fulfilling the ends which are human beings, their well-being, their comfort and also satisfaction (Walden, 2016, p.77). It is therefore inappropriate and immoral to use another person as a means to an end while there are entities that are provided to humans to use them to better their lives and meet their needs and achievement. Humans were originally created as ends and provided with entities as a means to ends that they can exploit to meet their needs. Therefore, humans basically end and should never be considered as a means of achieving ends (Sensen, 2015, p.111). This is a fact that needs to be respected, the entities or resources available for use should be used as a means to an end and not humans in any way.

Digitalization of work processes in companies have made significant implications of human resources management. Use of digital equipment or machines to replace other human work has transformed the concept of using employees as means to an end to an end in themselves. Digitalization of work earned employee respect for their dignity through introducing people-oriented management which respects the values and opinions of employees (Bloom & Bengtsson, 2017, p.23). For example, Adobe Company quitted selling it software in packages and started selling cloud-based software. This diverted the hefty work from the employees. Introduction of this new technology partnership among the human resource management and employees to support the company’s development (Bloom & Bengtsson, 2017, p.24).

Every person is responsible for meeting their own needs or achievements. No one is responsible for another person’s achievement. Drawing from objectivism advocated by Ayn Rand whereby she implied in her writing that every man is an end in himself and not means to others’ ends. Every person must exist for his or her own sake, by not sacrificing himself or herself for others or even sacrificing other people for himself or herself. In essence, every man for himself. Every achievement is entitled to oneself and therefore we should not drag other people to contribute to our achievements that they will not benefit from (Formosa, 2014, p.7). This implication asserts that we should respect our boundaries and focus on providing for our own self without inconveniencing other people by using them as means to our ends. They need respect and space as much as we need it too. Therefore, the quest for everyone’s self-interest as well as his own happiness is simply the greatest moral purpose his or her life.

Means to an end

Alternatively, some argue that people should be treated as means to an end because it promotes human interactions. Unlike the notion of treating people as ends in themselves whereby it encourages people to work on their own to gain their own individual success, treating people as means to an end encourages interaction among different people (Bauer, 2018, p.41). It entails an individual using the expertise or ability of another person to achieve something. Although it is commonly known that treating persons as means is morally wrong, in some instance, it is morally permissible. Sometimes it promotes interactions that are morally permissible such as waiters using customers to obtain tips, lecturers using students to test their level of understanding and as well students using their lecturers to gain expertise (Kerstein, 2009, p.165). It is justified for people to treat other people as means given that the interaction between the people promotes the overall good into all the people involved in the interaction. Essentially, Kant’s philosophy did not discard all the instances of using other people as means to satisfy our one needs or projects. That would definitely eliminate a lot of human interactions which are very essential in life. Sometimes it is unavoidable for a human being not to be treated as means, sometimes being treated as a means is essential in order to survive. The interaction involve with treating other people as means helps in sharing of ideas and as well joining forces by people of with different abilities or professionalism in order to be successful at something or achieve a certain desired goal for the common good of the parties involved.

Without allowing people to be treated as a means, then cooperative action tends to be impossible to attain something big. People can be treated as a means in order to achieve something big for the larger good by fostering a cooperative action. Given that human being has been provided with resources or entities to use them for their own benefit, it also requires a cooperative action which involves treating other people as means in order to reap out the best out of the resources for the larger good (Kerstein, 2009, p.167). Using other people to achieve something in a collaborative manner is respectful and promotes human dignity. This is because it is aimed at enhancing human value by meeting the basic needs and providing comfort to them. Since it is collaborative, it is certain that consent is given and it is for the common good for everyone. Therefore, it is justified that people should be treated as a means so as to benefit many in society rather than just an individual. For development to occur it needs collaborative actions to be taken whereby people are used as a means to exploit their different abilities in order to attain the desired goal.

Most of the times, people tend to prefer the satisfaction that is accompanied by being treated as a means to an end. People tend to find it fulfilling when good things occur through them despite being treated as a means for the action to occur. The most important thing is satisfying oneself. People tend to be proud of what they accomplish in doing something even though they are being used as a means to achieve it. The inner satisfaction that the individual gets after accomplishing what he or she has worked for matters a lot and disregard the notion that he or she has been used (Cureton, 2013, p.372). The feeling of having been able to achieve a certain goal helps in building confidence and enables an individual to appreciate his or her self-worth. Moreover, when the individual has achieved a certain goal the person who was using him will tend to develop some respect and appreciate him or her by gifting them with a reward. This is to mean that through being treated as a means, one can be able to identify his or her self-worth and as a result gain respect out of it.

Treating a person as a means does not really mean that he or she is exploited. It simply means that the individual is utilized as a medium for achieving something. In real life situation, we can note that most of the time, humans are voluntarily ready to be used as a means to attain a certain objective (Walden, 2016, p.80). For instance, soldiers who fight against our enemies in order to provide safety to us are used as a means to attain ends of safety and peace in our lives.  Therefore, being used as a means can bring along the sense of heroic and respect as it entails sacrificing oneself for the benefit of the bigger society.

We should also treat people as means if only we do not sabotage their safety and put their lives in danger or cause loss of life to the individual being used as a medium, it would be therefore justified to consider him or her as a means (Fasoro, 2019, p.231). People can only be used as a means to an end if them being used is beneficial to them and the bigger society and as well not putting their lives to any kind of risk.


To sum up, people should be treated as ends in themselves. Most people have reinforced this statement as a good example of implementing this philosophy is the availability of human rights in which we abide. In our day-to-day life experiences, we try our best to adhere to the human rights which promote the respect for humans making every person the center of benefit that is to mean an end. There are no circumstances in which a person is regarded as a means to fulfil another person’s goals. Certainly, there are cooperative actions involved in achieving benefits, cooperating persons involved are also well-taken care of as well as ensuring that the benefits are shared equally among them. We simply have to respect every individual.

Essentially, human beings are very valuable as well as worthy. Humans should never be regarded as means but rather as ends. The human values are accompanied by the responsibility of respecting fellow human beings. Failure to consider human value and morality, human existence and life lose its value and worth. It is not difficult to treat people as ends. It is simply the manner in which we give and take respect. The manner in which we give significance to other people, the manner in which we appreciate their efforts. Suppose we cannot undertake any good deed, we as humans can encourage the notion of treating people as ends simply by avoiding any negative deeds or misusing them.

The term sacrifice tends to have a different meaning to using people as means. It is connected with consent and accomplished by people who consent to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the larger society or other people. They actually sacrifice things as they know the consequences. Contrariwise, utilizing them as means is an act of misusing the innocence of the people. It is immoral to keep someone in the darkness and use them to attain the ends of other people. Whenever an individual is utilized as a means, they are unaware of what they have been utilized for and also fail to know the aftermath. Eventually, both will end losing the individual which means that using a person as a means is deceiving. All in all, respect for human dignity must be upheld. Humans have an intrinsic value in them and therefore needs to be given high levels of respect. This can be achieved by being good and treating others as we would like them to treat us. Therefore, it is appreciable to use people as ends and as well ensure that we avoid using them as a means.