Concrete Kantian Respect

Social Philosophy and Policy 15 (1):119 (1998)
When we think about Kantian virtue, what often comes to mind is the notion of respect. Respect is due to all persons merely in virtue of their status as rational agents. Indeed, on the Kantian view, specific virtues, such as duties of beneficence, gratitude, or self-perfection, are so many ways of respecting persons as free rational agents. To preserve and promote rational agency, to protect individuals from threats against rational agency, i.e., to respect persons, is at the core of virtue. No doubt, part of the appeal of the Kantian notion of respect is that it offers an intuitive way of talking about the wrongness of manipulation and coercion, and in general, the wrongness of unfairly taking advantage of another. For to respect persons is to take seriously their status as persons, and to forswear, at some level, actions and attitudes that would compromise their dignity. Talking about respect has become shorthand for signaling deontological concerns. More formally, within recent Kantian exegesis, respect is viewed as yielding a more accessible and less contrived account of the Categorical Imperative than the more traditional criterion of universalizability and the contradictions tests applied to it. Within the Kantianinspired political theory of John Rawls, respect is also a core notion, representing a pervasive good, the bases of which, just states have an obligation to distribute to their members. Yet, for all its appeal, respect is an odd feature of Kantian ethics. For it is an emotion in a theory that prides itself in grounding morality in principles of reason alone. In this essay, I draw attention to the importance of respect in Kant's account in order to show just how he makes room for the emotions. Indeed, I shall argue that on Kant's account of full moral agency, we are emotional as well as rational creatures. Although Kant often portrays respect as an abstract emotional attitude mysteriously connected to our rationality, I argue that on a suitable revision, respect can be transformed into a more concrete attitude, cultivated and expressed alongside other emotions requisite for full virtue
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DOI 10.1017/S0265052500003095
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Nancy Sherman (1998). Empathy and Imagination. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 22 (1):82-119.

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