Altered The Kantian Ethics in Altered

There is a great deal of Kantian ethics in Altered, insofar as Kantian ethics propose the importance of seeing people as an end in themselves, not as a means to an end.

The basics of the philosopher Immanuel Kant's ethics center on deontological morals - that is, whether doing something or not fulfills a duty we have. In other words, Kant argues that to be truly moral, one has to follow through with an action not based on its perceived consequences (to do so is called consequentialism, or utilitarianism) but rather based on whether we are following an ultimate principle of morality which he called the categorical imperative: an ‘imperative’ meaning an order or a command, and a categorical imperative meaning that even if it serves your best personal interest to not follow the imperative, you cannot violate it (this would be considered immoral). The categorical imperative (in its second formulation, the Formula of Humanity, which is most relevant to Altered) states that one must always act such that one treats humanity as an end in itself, and never merely as a means to some other end.

Cormac and Kincaid only see people as means to an end. Adelice tries to defy this normativity of the world that she lives in. People should not be seen and used as tools to accomplish goals; rather, they should be celebrated as ends in themselves. Nonetheless, Adelice struggles with her ability to even see Erik and Jost as ends in themselves, because she sees them as ways for her to be happy - which is ultimately a selfish reason to want to be with them.

Here the strongly utilitarian aspect of the Crewel World universe comes into play, and there is a constant reminder that in order to achieve goals and be powerful (which is the ultimate goal for the people that run Arras - as explicated by Einstein, who said that the private financial backers of the Cypress Project took authoritative roles and began using the output of the Project to their own advantage) one must prioritize oneself and permit the suffering of others if necessity dictates it. This is also indicative of the strong egotism that the Guild exhibits, along with Cormac. Despite their claims to desire peace and stability, Cormac and the Guild only wish to have and maintain those conditions of existence in which their own power is maintained. Again, this is highly anti-Kantian, and very much Machiavellian. The juxtaposition here is the selfless versus the selfish. Cormac in particular exhibits what Machiavelli called virtu, or virtue: the ability and foresight of the ruler (‘prince’ in Machiavelli's argument) to use force and to give force precedent over law. This is precisely what Cormac and the Guild do, to the chagrin of Adelice and her friends.

Adelice attempts to overcome this sentiment, but her resistance will only come to fruition in the third novel of the series.