Notice: Undefined index: HTTP_07BBAE8 in /home/accurate/public_html/wp-includes/template-loader.php on line 31
O’neil - Accurate Essays


Final Paper – O’neil

Student’s Name

Institutional Affiliation



Due Date

Final Paper – O’neil

            Various philosophers have contributed significantly in their various fields, which makes it necessary to examine each of these scholars to understand their impact and contributions. One of the renowned philosophical scholars whose works influence people so much is Onora O’Neill, a German philosopher who pays attention to international justice. She also pays attention to how accountability and issues of trust influence public life. She served as the Chair of the Nuffiled Foundation (1998-2020) and also serves as the Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge (O’neill, 1980). Her contributions to the field of political philosophy and ethics, particularly her formation of the Kantian view to ethics. She is also a renowned author (O’neill, 1980). Some of her works, include Bounds of Justice (2000), Towards Justice and Virtue, and Confrontations of Reason: Exploration of Kant’s Practical Philosophy (1989). The study pays considerable attention to O’neil’s contributions and perceptions to the field of Kantianism, while considering various aspects, including her perceptions on Kantian approaches to famine. 

O’neill’s View on Kant’s Ethics

            According to O’neil, the moral theory by Kant has gained the view of being considerably hard to comprehend, and once understood, turns out to be considerably demanding in its needs. O’neil does not believe that the reputation has been entirely earned, and informs that she would disagree with the perception (O’neill, 1980). One of the factors that makes the theory by Kant difficult to comprehend and possibly apply is that it offers various different perceptions of the theory that O’neil terms the Supreme Principle of Morality, and these diverse perceptions do not resemble one another (O’neill, 1980). Kant termed the Supreme Principle the Categorical Imperative, but versions developed later have since adopted different names. One of these forms is the Formula of the Kingdom of Ends and the Formula of Universal Law.

The Concept of the End Itself

            O’neil provides much information about the formula of the end in itself that gives a similar perception as that of Kant. According to proponents of Kantianism, “the Formula of the End in Itself refers to acting in such a manner that one always relates with humanity, whether as an individual or in the person of others, never simply as a way of but often at the same period as an end” (O’neill, 1980, 561). O’neil informs that to comprehend the argument, it is essential to understand what it implies to handle an individual as an end or mean. O’neil gives the perception of proponents of Kantianism, each of the way people act represents one or more maxims. O’neil further claims that the maxim of the action is the principle on which a person sees their self as acting. O’neil further asserts that people have at least a single maxim whenever they act knowingly.

Utilising Persons as Mere Means

            O’neil gives her perceptions regarding the Kantian issue of utilising a person as a mere means. To utilise someone as a mere means according O’neil and proponents of the Kantian theory is to engage them in schemes of actions to which they could not be part of in principle consents. O’neil further describes how Kant, the founder of Kantian theory, does not dispute the concept of using someone as means (O’neill, 1980). However, O’neil acknowledges that people do not have to act as expected in any cooperative schemes of act (O’neill, 1980). O’neil acknowledges that there are contexts where a person utilises another in a manner to which the other person could not when considering the principle market.

Handling Persons as Ends in Themselves

            Duties and obligations of justice are, in accordance with O’neil’s views (as with other supporters of Kantianism), are the most essential of people’s obligations. When individuals fail in these obligations, they have utilised the other as mere means (O’neill, 1980). Nonetheless, there are also instances where, though an individual or people do not utilise others as mere means, they still fail to utilise them as ends in themselves in the broadest way possible (O’neill, 1980). To handle someone as an end to herself or himself requires in the first hand that a person not use her or him as mere means, that one regard each other with respect and as a rational being who follow their maxim. 

Perceptions on Famine Problems

            Regarding O’neil’s deliberations on famine problems, the scholar informs that the Kantian theoretical concept may not have much to inform about famine issues. The main reason behind this is that it is a theory that disregards using other people as mere means and further forbids the directing of benevolence to suffering people (O’neill, 1980). A conscious Kantian, it appears, has only to stay away from being unfair to those who suffer from the effects of famine and can be beneficial to those situated near their homes.

Kantian Obligations of Justice in Times of Famine

            O’neil provides her view on how a Kantian should conduct themselves at the time of famine, which may help to deal with such calamities in the most effective manner. In the context of a famine, Kantian theory demands that people engage in no form of injustice (Class Lecture). The scholar warns acting on any maxim that utilizes another as mere avenues, which makes it improper to coerce and deceive others. The philosopher contends that such a need can be quite demanding when the forms of life are not adequate, when people can more easily be convinced, and when the merit of achieving more than what is justified is proper (Class Lecture). O’neil proceeds to outline some of the actions that would be incorrect to do based on Kantian guidelines. O’neil claims that whereas the obligations of those living with famine is constrained, she asserts that it is necessary to take any measures that would salvage the situation.  

Kantian Obligations of Beneficence in Times of Famine

            O’neil provides her argument on the issue of beneficence from the perspective of Kantianism. She claims that the basis of duties of beneficence are in such a way that actions do not just utilise others as mere avenues but as actions that build or develop others and that, especially, promotes the capacity of others to pursue their desires and to be independent beings (O’neill, 1980). O’neil (1980) believes that there are many chances for beneficence. She further asserts that one area in which the key task of enhancing others’ capability to pursue their individual desires is highly required is in parts of the globe where abject hunger and poverty render people unable to strive towards realising any of their aspirations (Class Lecture). The philosopher further argues that beneficence aimed at putting people in a place to achieve whatever desires they may have, for proponents of Kantianism, a robust impact people than beneficence aimed at sharing views with individuals who are already in a place to achieve various aspirations.

Demerits of Kantian Ethics

            According to O’neil, Kantian ethics has some differences from utilitarian ethics both in terms of precision and scope with which it regulates action. The philosopher contends that every act, whether of an agency or person, can be evaluated using utilitarian concepts, taking into account only that information is accessible regarding all the outcomes of the action (O’neill, 1980). The scope of the theory is unlimited, but because of lack of reliable data, usually does not have precision. O’neil informs that Kantian ethics has a more restrained scope because it examines actions by considering the maxims of agents, which makes it possible to assess international actions (O’neill, 1980). This implies that the theory is best placed to assess the acts of individuals, but it can be prolonged to examine actions of organizations (such as government entities, business firms, or employee or student unions) have procedures that guide decision-making (O’neill, 1980). However, O’neil feels that a major limitation of the Kantian ethics is that it pays attention to the intentions to the neglect of outcomes. It may appear that proponents advocate that a suitable approach is to ensure they do not take advantage of others.


            The study summarises the views of O’neil on various philosophical concepts. She summarises Kant’s views on Kantianism, and gives her perception on the idea of the end itself and using a person as mere means. Furthermore, the scholar gives her views on the idea of persons as ends in themselves. The scholar provides valuable information concerning how proponents of Kantianism should conduct themselves in the event of famine. She asserts that while people in famine struck areas may have constrained opportunities, it is imperative to take any measures that would remedy the situation. She also outlines the possible limitations associated with the Kantian theory, which provide much awareness about the ethical theory. One major concerns associated with Kantianism that O’neil is that the framework focuses on the intentions to the avoidance of outcomes.


Class Lecture. Kantian approaches to famine: Onora O’neil.

O’neill, O. (1980). Kantian approaches to some famine problems. In Regan T. (Ed.). Matters of

            life and death. London: McGraw-Hill, pp. 561-567.

Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!

WELCOME TO OUR NEW SITE. We Have Redesigned Our Website With You In Mind. Enjoy The New Experience With 15% OFF