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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1465891
 
 

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The Priority of Respect: How Our Common Humanity Can Ground Our Individual Dignity


Richard Stith


Valparaiso University School of Law

2004

International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 44, p. 165, 2004

Abstract:     
In this essay, we notice that the priority of persons, the unbridgeable political gap between persons and mere things, corresponds to a special sort of moral and legal treatment for persons, namely, as irreplaceable individuals. Normative language that conflates the category of person with fungible kinds of being can thus appear to justify destroying and replacing human beings, just as we do with things. Lethal consequences may result, for example, from a common but improper extension of the word “value” to persons. The attitude and act called “respect” brings forth much more adequately than “value” the distinctively individual priority of persons, allowing our common humanity to be a reason for each person’s separate significance. Unless we focus on the respect-worthiness of human life rather than on its value, we will not be able to argue coherently against those who think its destruction permissible.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: Person, Respect, Dignity, Value, Abortion, Euthanasia, Death Penalty, Jeffrey Reiman, Ronald Dworkin, Ontology, Axiology

JEL Classification: B30, B31, D63, D64, H41, J17, J18, K1, K19, K39, D46, D63

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Date posted: October 30, 2009 ; Last revised: December 3, 2010

Suggested Citation

Stith, Richard, The Priority of Respect: How Our Common Humanity Can Ground Our Individual Dignity (2004). International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 44, p. 165, 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1465891

Contact Information

Richard T. Stith (Contact Author)
Valparaiso University School of Law ( email )
656 S. Greenwich St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383-6493
United States
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