Essay on Kant’s Second Moral Maxim

Kant’s Second maxim is “So act as to treat humanity whether in thine own person or in that of any other, always as an end, and never as a means”. This law does not allow any one the privilege or right or committing suicide.

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Suicide is wrong because the person who commits it does not give due respect to his intrinsic humanity and treats himself merely as a means to enjoyment of pleasure.

In the same way, it would be incorrect for a student to terminate his studies at the command of his parents because; he makes himself the means to the satisfaction of the desire of his parents.


Again no man has the right to allow others to exploit him. Deception is wrong because the deceiver misleads others and exploits them as a means to his own ends. We should respect our own personality and the personality of others.

Thus, from the above law Kant derives a corollary – “Try always to perfect they self and try to condone to the happiness of others, by bringing about favourable circumstances as you cannot make others perfect.”

For the attainment of perfection, will power and control are needed and no one can control another. Consequently, he cannot make them perfect. He can only create or increase such circumstances as will enhance their happiness and perfection.



Kant’s second moral maxim is important because it preaches respect for our own and other’s personalities. Every one will agree with the fact that it is immoral to reduce any other’s personalities to the level of a means to one’s own end but not with standing this, some exceptions will have to be admitted.

Some people sacrifice even their lives for the propagation of knowledge, defence of the country and the search of truth and consequently use themselves as means to the increase of other’s knowledge and preservation of their lives. But who would call these people immoral?

In the same way it sometimes becomes necessary to employ some as means to the benefit of others. For example, incase of contagious diseases it becomes necessary to segregate the diseased- They are used as means to the benefit of others in this way. But no one would brand it as immoral.

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