the reason, says Kant, that humans have a dignity which deserves protection and respect is that, unlike inanimate objects and lower forms of life, humans possess the capacity to direct rationally our conduct-- we have rational autonomy
ordinary things have only one type of value: price, which is merely instrumental and replaceable
by contrast, humans have intrinsic value: dignity, which makes us inexpendable
accordingly, Kant offers another statement of his principle:
Always act so that you treat humanity as an end-in-itself and never as a mere means to an end
in other words, respect the rational autonomy in each person
A. Comparison to Plato’s Crito Kant’s discussion of duty is reminiscent of one of Socrates’ speech in Plato’s Crito.