The Place of Self‐Respect in a Theory of Justice

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (2):127 – 154 (2009)
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This essay provides a critical examination of Rawls' (and Rawlsians') conception of self-respect, the social bases of self-respect, and the normative justification of equality in the social bases of self-respect. I defend a rival account of these notions and the normative ideals at stake in political liberalism and a theory of social justice. I make the following arguments: (1) I argue that it is unreasonable to take self-respect to be a primary social good, as Rawls and his interpreters characterize it; (2) secondly, drawing on a distinction made by Darwall, I argue that recognition respect provides a far more suitable notion of respect for a theory of justice than Rawls' notion of appraisal respect; (3) thirdly, I argue that Rawls' treatment of self-respect and the social bases of self-respect as empirical conceptions should be rejected in favor of normative notions of a reasonable or justified self-respect and equality in reasonable social bases of self-respect; (4) I argue that Rawls' notions of political liberalism and public reason provide a way of grounding a notion of the reasonable social bases of self-respect in political ideals of the person implicit in modern economic institutions, and family relations, ignored by Rawlsians—but as central to reasonable social bases of self-respect and justice, as Rawlsians' ideal of persons as free and equal citizens.



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Citations of this work

Respect.Robin S. Dillon - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Real self-respect and its social bases.Christian Schemmel - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (5):628-651.
Incentives, Inequality and Self-Respect.Richard Penny - 2013 - Res Publica 19 (4):335-351.
Self‐Esteem: On the Form of Self‐Worth Worth Having.Jessica Isserow - 2023 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (4):686-719.

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References found in this work

Justice, Gender and the Family.Susan Moller Okin - 1989 - Hypatia 8 (1):209-214.
Where the Action Is: On the Site of Distributive Justice.G. A. Cohen - 1997 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 26 (1):3-30.
3 Rawls on Justification.T. M. Scanlon - 2002 - In Samuel Freeman (ed.), The Cambridge companion to Rawls. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 139.

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