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Communities of RespectGrounding Responsibility, Authority, and Dignity$
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Bennett W. Helm

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198801863

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198801863.001.0001

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Towards a Social Conception of Persons

Towards a Social Conception of Persons

(p.1) 1 Towards a Social Conception of Persons
Communities of Respect

Bennett W. Helm

Oxford University Press

This Chapter examines three sources of motivation for individualistic conceptions of persons (responsibility, identity, and practical rationality), all of which are in conceptual tension with the sorts of authority we can have over each other. We can relieve this tension in part by following Peter Strawson in understanding responsibility to depend on “human communities”—communities of respect by which we hold each other responsible to certain norms and so to certain practices or way of life. Yet the authority by which we hold others responsible presupposes the worth not only of the norms but also of the agent and the one holding her to those norms. We can understand such worth, it is suggested, in terms of communities of respect—in terms of its members’ joint respect for each other and for its norms and practices.

Keywords:   persons, individualism, responsibility, rationality, identity, authority, respect, Peter Strawson

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