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Honor, History, and RelationshipEssays in Second-Personal Ethics II$
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Stephen Darwall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662609.001.0001

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Kant on Respect, Dignity, and the Duty of Respect

Kant on Respect, Dignity, and the Duty of Respect

(p.247) 11 Kant on Respect, Dignity, and the Duty of Respect
Honor, History, and Relationship

Stephen Darwall

Oxford University Press

It is a familiar theme that Kant bequeathed to modern moral thought the doctrine that all rational beings or persons have a dignity that makes them equally worthy of respect. Frequently this characterization is put forward based on Kant's most familiar ethical writings, Groundwork and The Critique of Practical Reason. However, when one looks carefully at these and the rest of Kant's corpus, a much more complicated and puzzling picture emerges. Kant often treats the dignity of persons as a species of merit rather than anything persons have regardless of merit. This chapter discusses the fascinating details of Kant's writings on respect and dignity. Although Kant sometimes conceives of dignity as involving a standing every person has to demand or ‘exact’ respect, Kant also treats dignity as a value we can all achieve, but only when we properly exercise our capacity for moral choice.

Keywords:   dignity, Kant, merit, respect, persons

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