Monday, April 21, 2008

Sorry for the silence

I haven't been posting much lately. Since I was so busy I decided to remove the blog from the web for a time. I hope to get back into posting more regularly now.

Kant and the Maniacal Boolean

Here's something I've been pondering lately...

Let's take one of Kant's formulations of the categorical imperative: treat all subjects as ends, not means. All of us Christians should look at this, and certainly agree, right? We should look at subjects, persons really, and see beings created with dignity in the image of God. Thus, we should treat these persons with the dignity bestowed upon them by their Creator, and treat them as ends in themsleves, never as merely means toward our own ends.

Now, for those of you who are familiar with logic, what would it mean to interpret Kant's imperative from a Boolean perspective? Clearly, Kant's imperative is an A-type categorical, so it's universal. Boolean logic interprets such universals (either A or E type categoricals, e.g., the A, all S are P, or the E, no S are P) as having no existential import. In other words, the categorical proposition implies nothing about the actual existence of the subject term. Further, pretend for a moment that you are a maniacal, power-hungry wacko, that needs to use people as means to get to the top. At the same time you recognize that treating subjects as means is morally reprehensible; in other words, you agree with Kant's categorical imperative. Would it be possible for this maniacal, power-hungry wacko to agree with Kant's categorical imperative, but to interpret it in a Boolean fashion? Would it be possible to say, "Yes, Kant, you are absolutely right! All subjects should be treated as ends, not means. Unfortunately, your categorical impertative is universal, and therefore has not existential import. I deny that there are such real things as subjects (for reasons x, y, and z), and am therefore fully capable (in a moral sense) of using people as the means to get what I really want--power; people are not subjects"?