Kant's Conception of Human Dignity

Kant-Studien 100 (3):309-331 (2009)

Authors
Oliver Sensen
Tulane University
Abstract
In this article I argue that Kant's conception of dignity is commonly misunderstood. On the basis of a few passages in the Grundlegung scholars often attribute to Kant a view of dignity as an absolute inner value all human beings possess. However, a different picture emerges if one takes into account all the passages in which Kant uses ‘dignity’. I shall argue that Kant's conception of dignity is a more Stoic one: He conceives of dignity as sublimity ( Erhabenheit ) or the highest elevation of something over something else. ‘Dignity’ expresses that something is ‘raised above’ all else. What it is raised above, and in virtue of what, depends on the context in which Kant uses ‘dignity’. For instance, he talks about the dignity of a monarch to refer to his rank as the ruler of his subjects. When Kant refers to the dignity of humanity, he expresses the view that human beings have a prerogative over the rest of nature in virtue of being free. What Kant is saying in the famous Grundlegung passage on dignity is that morality is raised above other determinations of will in that morality alone should be valued unconditionally. In unfolding the complicated usage of ‘dignity’ in Kant's works, my reading helps to bring out the coherence of his ethics.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1515/KANT.2009.018
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 39,951
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Dependence and a Kantian Conception of Dignity as a Value.Philippa Byers - 2016 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 37 (1):61-69.
The Moral Significance of Gratitude in Kant's Ethics.Houston Smit & Mark Timmons - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (4):295-320.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Varieties of Dignity.Lennart Nordenfelt - 2004 - Health Care Analysis 12 (2):69-81.
Human Rights and Human Dignity.Doris Schroeder - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):323-335.
Persons, Human Beings, and Respect.Peter Baumann - 2007 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):5-17.
Human Dignity as a Right.Shaoping Gan - 2009 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):370-384.
Death with Dignity.P. Allmark - 2002 - Journal of Medical Ethics 28 (4):255-257.
The Art of Becoming Human: Morality in Kant and Confucius.Katrin Froese - 2008 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 7 (3):257-268.
The Social Nature of Kantian Dignity.Ernesto V. Garcia - 2000 - Social Philosophy Today 16:127-139.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-09-17

Total views
787 ( #3,199 of 2,235,641 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
30 ( #20,110 of 2,235,641 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature