From self-respect to respect for others



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Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals, edited by Immanuel Kant, Thomas E. Hill, and Arnulf Zweig (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); pp. 19-91 and Engstrom (2009).

22 Kant’s claim that certain dispositions are part of our rational nature seems quite radical to us in part because many of us are used to thinking of rationality as a formal matter of consistency and coherence among our mental states – a fully rational person is one whose mental states are in good order (she does not have contradictory beliefs, she intends the believed necessary means to her ends or gives them up, and satisfies other of Broome’s requirements of rationality), while a rational person in general is one who has the potential to be fully rational but perhaps no drive to do so. Kant’s idea of rationality, on the other hand, includes substantive dispositions, to think for oneself, to seek the condition of the unconditioned to give morality preference over self-interest, to express our autonomy in action and also, I claim, to pursue our own happiness and respect ourselves – these dispositions are fully realized in a fully rational person while a rational person in general has them but may not be exercising them fully. Reason, for Kant, has its own motivational elements, which he thinks drive us to make ourselves happy and respect ourselves. Someone who lacked any disposition at all to do these things would not be a rational person, according to Kant, but his own view was that virtually every person is in fact rational in this sense even though we might want to question that faith.

23 Hill (“Happiness and Human Flourishing, 2002) makes this point to explain the asymmetry between our duty to promote the happiness of others and having no duty to pursue our own happiness. Another point is that the words ‘happiness’ and well-being’ are often used in different ways, but if, as some do, we use them to refer to the same idea of what makes a life go well, then Kant’s account of happiness as satisfaction of one’s permissible ends may be understood more easily. Rawls (1999, chapter 7) may have endorsed a view along these lines.

24 See also CPrR 5:61; 5:110; G 4:415-16 and R 6:6.

25 O’Neill (1990) raises questions about moral theories that rely on hypothetical consent, but I think her challenges can be met.

26 John Broome; "Rationality" in A companion to the philosophy of action, edited by Timothy O'Connor and Constantine Sandis (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010); pp. 285-92

27 See Baron (1995) and David Cummiskey; Kantian consequentialism; (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

28 See Hill (“Kant on imperfect duty and supererogation”, 1992) and Hill (“Happiness and human flourishing”, 2002). A further possibility, which is closer to the views of Baron and Cummiskey than to Hill’s regarding the latitude allowed by the duty of beneficence, is to say that we are required to help others unless there are strong moral reasons to do otherwise, where these reasons can be provided by our own happiness.

29 See Wood (2008), Thomas E. Hill; "Pains and Projects" in Autonomy and self-respect (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); pp. 173-88, Dillon (“Respect and Care: Toward Moral Integration”, 1992) and Robin Dillon; "Arrogance, Self-Respect and Personhood"; Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (5-6); (2007); pp. 101-26, Lara Denis; "Freedom, primacy, and perfect duties to oneself" in Kant's Metaphysics of morals : a critical guide, edited by Lara Denis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); pp. 170-91 and Nelson Potter; "Duties to Oneself, Motivational Internalism, and Self-Deception in Kant's Ethics" in Kant's Metaphysics of Morals: Interpretative Essays, edited by Mark Timmons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); pp. 371-90.

30 See Korsgaard (1996).

31 See Hill (“Kant on imperfect duty and supererogation”, 1992) and Hill (“Happiness and human flourishing”, 2002).

32 These kinds of reasons are sometimes called ‘agent-relative’ because they involve an ineliminable back-reference to the person for whom they are reasons – ‘agent-neutral’ reasons do not involve such a back-reference Philip Petit; "Universality Without Utilitarianism"; Mind 72; (1987); pp. 74-82. That some action is in my interest or will help my children are agent-relative reasons for me to do it but not necessarily a reason for anyone else to act that way, whereas that an act will promote general utility is, according to some, a reason for anyone to do it.

33 See Rawls (1999)

34 Robin Dillon; "Kant on Arrogance and Self-Respect" in Setting the moral compass: essays by women philosophers, edited by Cheshire Calhoun (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); pp. 191-216 calls this ‘interpersonal arrogance’ and nicely points out ways in which being arrogant is itself a way of failing to have proper respect for oneself.

35 For a different but related discussion of the interconnected family of concepts that includes ‘demands’, ‘claims’, ‘rights’, ‘authority’ and ‘respect’ see Stephen Darwall; "Respect and the Second-Person Standpoint"; Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 78 (2); (2004); pp. 43-59 and Stephen Darwall; The second-person standpoint; (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006).

36 For a related discussion of the connections between self-respect and arrogance in Kant see Dillon (2007).

37 See Frederick Douglass; Life and times of Frederick Douglass; (New York: Collier Books, 1962) and Frederick Douglass and William L. Andrews; My bondage and my freedom; (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987).

38 For a wonderful discussion in this same spirit see David Sussman; "What's Wrong with Torture?"; Philosophy and Public Affairs 33; (2005); pp. 1-33


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