At a recent symposium on Victor Tadros's book The Ends of Harm, Victor and I were debating whether the Means Principle (MP) is best thought of on a subjective interpretation (for A to use B as a means, A has to intend that B play some role in bringing about a good) or an objective, causal-role-based interpretation (for A to use B as a means, B has to serve as a causal means in bringing about some good that might be offered to justify A doing what she does). Victor argues for the subjective interpretation; I argue not exactly for the objective, but for the relevance of causal roles in a principle that has more or less the same range of application as the means principle.
This led to our discussing whether the critics of the subjective view--principally JJ Thomson, Frances Kamm, and Tim Scanlon—have ever offered any good reasons for their views (no, says Victor) or whether they have, or at least whether their arguments provide a good starting point for building an argument that the subjective interpretation faces an uphill battle (yes, say I). Victor then suggested that I post this as a topic for debate on Pea Soup. So here we are.