The Rationality of Valuing Oneself: A Critique of Kant on Self-Respect

The Rationality of Valuing Oneself: A Critique of Kant on Self-Respect CYNTHIA A. STARK IN RECENT DECADES several philosophers have examined the notion of self- respect and illustrated its moral importance. Thomas E. Hill Jr., for instance, argues that the failure to properly value one's moral rights, which is exhibited by such characters as the Deferential Wife and the Uncle Tom, is a violation of a duty to oneself.' Robin Dillon shows the connection between self-respect and moral goods such as integrity, autonomy, and responsibility. She chronicles the suffering and diminishment of character experienced by those who lack self-respect, such as the Self-Doubter, the Slavishly Dependent, the Vaguely Self-Defining, the Complacent, and the Shameless, to name only a few? And John Rawls tells us that self-respect is the most important primary social good; it is something that any rational agent would want, regardless of the content of her conception of the good.3 In spite of the effort to illustrate the significance of self-respect and its place in moral theory, very littleattention has been given in contemporary views to justifying the idea that self-respect is an important moral good.4 This omission is remarkable, given that self-respect is often appealed to as a means of justifying various other philosophical claims or views. For example, Bernard Boxill argues that the disempowered ought to protest their subordination because this is a means of publicly..
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DOI 10.1353/hph.1997.0006
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