Kant thoughts human dignity

References and Further Reading 1. Introduction There are a number of competing conceptions of human dignity taking their meaning from the cosmological, anthropological, or political context in which human dignity is used.

Kant thoughts human dignity

References and Further Reading 1. Introduction There are a number of competing conceptions of human dignity taking their meaning from the cosmological, anthropological, or political context in which human dignity is used.

Human dignity can denote the special elevation of the human species, the special potentiality associated with rational humanity, or the basic entitlements of each individual. There are, by extension, dramatically different normative uses to which the concept can be put.

It is connected, variously, to ideas of sanctity, autonomy, personhood, flourishing, and self-respect, and human dignity produces, at different times, strict prohibitions and empowerment of the individual.

It can also, potentially, be used to express the core commitments of liberal political philosophy as well as precisely those duty-based obligations to self and others that communitarian philosophers consider to be systematically neglected by liberal political philosophy. As a consequence of these antagonistic currents of thought, philosophical analysis of human dignity cannot be separated from wider debates in moral, political, and legal philosophy.

Nor can a certain level of selective reconstruction be avoided.

Immanuel Kant (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The genealogy of the concept has been traced, tendentiously, through the whole history of Western, and sometimes non-Western, philosophical thought; such genealogies are not always illuminating at a conceptual level.

More specifically, it is a desideratum of philosophical analysis of human dignity that the concept can be shown to have sufficient clarity to make a useful contribution to modern philosophical debate.

This article therefore locates human dignity within a range of debates and suggests—using one important reconstruction of the concept—that human dignity represents a claim about human status that is intended to have a unifying effect on our ethical, legal and political practices.

We begin with an extended methodological and conceptual exploration, asking what should be taken as primary in examining human dignity. Noting a particularly close relationship between contemporary uses of human dignity, international law, and human rights, this connection is treated as focal without assuming that it is definitive of the concept for related but alternative starting points see Debes ; Waldron ; Donnelly Conceptual Background The use of human dignity in public international law is a marker for understanding the moral, legal and political discourse of human dignity.

In fact, it is this potential to bridge different fields of regulation—human rights, bioethics, humanitarian law, equality law and others—that we might take to be the most important function of human dignity in international law.

We will refer to an interstitial concept of human dignity IHD. This concept, arising from discourses and practices of international law, has a strong relationship with equality, liberty, and the basic status of the individual.

And, crucially, it implies an interstitial or conjunctive function across our normative systems. It is where law, ethics, and politics meet and are practically and critically interrelated. It is where domestic, regional, and international regulation find a common principle. It is where positive law and morality become difficult to distinguish.

Kant thoughts human dignity

And it is where specific norms and general principles are linked. By extension, this concept of human dignity is the concept we should treat as the foundation of human rights because any reconstruction of the complex menu of human rights in international law has to take account of their wide-ranging implications for legal, moral and political governance.

Put another way, one necessary condition for a defensible, foundational account of human rights is that their foundational principle must have an interstitial function straddling these fields of normative practice.

Note that this does not capture, and is potentially in tension with, many existing linguistic and normative practices related to human dignity. They imply nothing about politics or about law more generally.

These linguistic and normative manifestations of human dignity should be considered in their own terms and are returned to in what follows. But the question of why there are tensions between these uses and the IHD is a revealing line of enquiry in itself.

It concerns genealogical changes in the concept but also, and more importantly, the ways in which norms and principles are shaped and conditioned within the different practices of law, ethics and politics.

To be sure, an interstitial concept is treated here as the best vantage point for all the competing claims.

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But this is not to insist it is the only intelligible concept. These immediately assist in distinguishing an IHD concept from a behavioral description of dignity which would not be inalienable, a virtue ethical reading which would either not include ascription to every human person or would be contingent, or a healthcare ethics reading which might not insist on the overridingness of human dignity.

Note that these formal criteria are not treated as necessary conditions for human dignity but are, rather, claims commonly associated with human dignity in international law.

They assist, amongst other things, in distinguishing human dignity from dignity simpliciter with its associations with behavior and comportment.

Invocation of human dignity invites us to ask what underlying conception of humanity is at work. The conjunction of human and person also produces potentially competing conceptual and ontological commitments, and we can draw a distinction between normative and taxonomical humanity in our discourse of human dignity Donnelly Further complexity arises from strong species-based claims or discussions of transhumanism that are focused on potential changes in the ontology of humanity.

Undoubtedly human dignity is associated with species claims but it is also intelligible to rely upon more formal claims about the characteristics of agents or persons in analysis of human dignity.

Related to these questions of ascription, the ontological and normative commitments involved in a human dignity claim the question of what are varied.

Human dignity could concern capacities, could include the direct requirement to exercise capacities, and might also concern a teleology for humanity that is, the ontology of human dignity. Human dignity will—at least in the use of concern here—be closely linked to notions of autonomy, personhood and free will that is, the correlates of human dignity.

Related to this is a contrast concerning what we might call the metaphysics of human dignity between human dignity considered broadly as a property or as something arising relationally through recognition or respect. Third, normative use concerns characteristic normative implications and normative functions.

This has been usefully expressed as a distinction between empowerment and constraint Beyleveld and Brownsword The IHD is commonly associated with empowerment through human rights.At most Kant gives us reason to think that the moral capacity is the ground of human dignity and this, as we saw, is too narrow a ground for the purposes that the notion of .

Kant thoughts human dignity

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IMMANUEL KANT’S MORAL THEORY This philosopher Immanuel Kant is generally credited with much of the foundational thought in the evolution of deontology and deontological perspectives.

Kant viewed the ability of human beings to reason as the basis of our status as moral agents. 1. Aims and Methods of Moral Philosophy. The most basic aim of moral philosophy, and so also of the Groundwork, is, in Kant’s view, to “seek out” the foundational principle of a “metaphysics of morals,” which Kant understands as a system of a priori moral principles that apply the CI to human persons in all times and cultures.

Kant pursues this project through the first two chapters. treatment of human dignity. I shall present an analysis of his understanding within the context of his methodology and his general approach to Kant’s moral philosophy. – Immanuel Kant. ) All human knowledge begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to concepts, and ends with ideas.

– Immanuel Kant. ) “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.” “Better the whole people perish than that injustice be done” – Immanuel Kant. .

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