Dignity and Vulnerability: Strength and Quality of Character

I began this project with a few thoughts on one topic, and they grew into many on a larger one. I wanted to say something about vulnerability and discovered that there was much to say about human dignity. Once a rather die-hard Kantian, I have made over the last decade or so a fairly radical transition to a basically Aristotelian way of thinking. Persistent thoughts over the status of personal ties in the moral life first led me away from Kant and toward Aristotle. Though I think some of the criticisms of Kant regarding friendship, for example, are misguided, in the end I do not think Kant gives us a very satisfactory way of thinking about what is most important to us in personal relationships. What Kant is supposed to give us, however, is an insightful way of thinking about human dignity and the worth of persons. I do not believe he does. In fact, I think that Kant and his predecessors, the Christians and the Stoics, deeply mislead us about our dignity. In this sense, this book is an attack on a certain tradition and what is thought to be its greatest strength. I hope, however, that what emerges is more positive than negative, that what I say provides some insight into what we actually do value in ourselves and others.
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