Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-9-2017

Major Department or Program



Dr. Patrick Frierson


A respect for rational nature is central to Immanuel Kant’s moral theory. In his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant offers the following iteration of the categorical imperative: “So act in regard to every rational being (yourself and others) that he may always have a place in your maxim as an end in itself.” Humans, as rational beings, are ends in themselves with absolute worth; this is the highest status one can achieve within Kant’s moral framework.

The purpose of this thesis is to determine the extent to which a Kantian definition of rational nature limits the inclusion of those with certain mental disorders from the category of humanity, and thus from treatment as respect-garnering ends in themselves. This topic has gotten very little attention from philosophers. Many accounts have been offered as to why Kant’s supposedly egalitarian moral theory does or does not fail if we consider his deeply racist and sexist views. A discussion of Kant’s attitude towards mental disorders must be added to this conversation. This thesis acts as a starting point for doing just that.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Mental Illness -- Mental disorders, Humanity -- Philosophy, Perfection -- Moral perfectibility, Depressive Disorder -- Melancholia, Mental illness -- Mental derangement, Ethics -- Moral Considerability, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2017 -- Philosophy Department

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Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis



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