Source: Prof Michael Sandel, Justice: ..., Episode 06: "MIND YOUR MOTIVE"
A student (who reveals his name as Patrick, at the 52:45 interval) asks:
52:34: Suppose I want to buy something, food. I must go to the store, use the person working behind the counters as a means for me to purchase my food.
Prof Sandel responds:
52:49: Patrick you're not doing anything wrong. You're not violating the categorical imperative when you use other people as a means. That's not objectionable, provided [that] when we deal with other people for the sake of advancing our projects and purposes and interests, which we all do,
53:11: provided [that] we treat them in a way that is consistent with respect for their dignity 53:20: What it means to respect them is given by the categorical imperative.
This answer feels too abstract; so could someone please concretise or reify it?
If I'm going to see a checkout clerk to pay for my food, then I MUST be using the clerk for the sake of advancing our projects and purposes and interests, which we all do [to buy food]?
Suppose everybody were to treat them in a way that is consistent with respect for their dignity. Does this mean that we must see checkout clerks ONLY for any purpose, BESIDES paying for food? For example, we should see them to discuss philosophy?
But then no food would ever be bought and these clerks would lose their jobs.
Footnote: Am I right that I'm appealing to consequentialism in the last sentence above?