ABSTRACTThis article argues that received accounts of the concept of human dignity face more difficulties than has been appreciated, when explaining the connection between human dignity and the duty of respect that dignity is supposed to generate. It also argues that a novel, relational, account has the adequate structure to explain such connection.
In this paper I explore elements from Kant’s philosophy of right to develop a relational account of the wrong of poverty. Poverty is a relational wrong because it involves relations of problematic dependence, inequality, and humiliation. Such relations infringe the rights to freedom and equality of the poor. And the called-for response is one of public recognition and protection of the rights of the poor. This position means we must radically reconceptualize our individual duties to the poor: not _private beneficence_, (...) but _private remedies for public failures_. (shrink)
In spite of the burgeoning philosophical literature on human dignity, Stephen Darwall's second-personal account of the dignity of persons has not received the attention it deserves. This article investigates Darwall's account and argues that it faces a dilemma, for it succumbs either to a problem of antecedence or to the wrong kind of reasons problem. But this need not mean one should reject a second-personal account. Instead, I argue that an alternative second-personal conception, one I will call relational, promises to (...) solve the dilemma by avoiding both the problem of antecedence and the wrong kind of reasons problem. More generally, distinguishing these two second-personal conceptions of the dignity of persons is important to enrich the available philosophical accounts of human dignity. (shrink)
This article focuses on human dignity as a moral idea and, in particular, on a single but fundamental question: what conception of human dignity, if any, can generate an egalitarian duty to respect all persons? After surveying two mainstream and two alternative conceptions, the article suggests that explaining how human dignity generates an egalitarian duty of respect may be more difficult than has been appreciated.
Claiming rights against one another is a perfectly familiar phenomenon. We express the elementary thought you cannot do that to me in a variety of ways. And yet, in spite of the perfect familiarity of this phenomenon, the two standard philosophical theories of rights face notorious difficulties in accounting for it. My aim in this paper is to introduce a distinctive, second-personal account of rights. I will call this the independence theory of rights, the view that rights are specifications of (...) a basic right to independence against another. And I will argue that by taking as basic the second-personal thought you cannot do that to me the independence theory best illuminates the basic phenomenon of having rights against one another. (shrink)
The two standard interpretations of Kant’s view of the relationship between external freedom and public law make one of the terms a means for the production of the other: either public law is justified as a means to external freedom, or external freedom is justified as a means for producing a system of public law. This article defends an alternative, constitutive interpretation: public law is justified because it is partly constitutive of external freedom. The constitutive view requires conceiving of external (...) freedom in a novel, second-personal way, that is, as an irreducibly relational norm. (shrink)
How should we think about apparent conflicts of moral rights? I defend a non-balancing and holistic specification model: non-balancing because moral rights have absolute deontic stringency regardless of any balance of independent values; holistic because the content of moral rights is limited only by that of other moral rights. Holistic Specification, as I call the model, offers a principled, non-consequentialist explanation of exceptions to moral rights. Moreover, Holistic Specification explains why moral rights matter to practical thought while rendering remedial duties (...) less mysterious. (shrink)
What is the relationship between human rights and the rights of states? Roughly, while cosmopolitans insist that international morality must regard as basic the interests of individuals, statists maintain that the state is of fundamental moral significance. This article defends a relational version of statism. Human rights are ultimately grounded in a relational norm of reciprocal independence and set limits to the exercise of public authority, but, contra the cosmopolitan, the state is of fundamental moral significance. A relational account promises (...) to justify a limited conception of state sovereignty while avoiding the familiar cosmopolitan criticisms of statist accounts. (shrink)
This article defends a novel, normative conception of the indivisibility of human rights. Human rights are indivisible because normative commitment to one mutually entails normative commitment to another. The normative conception enables us to defend three important theoretical and practical corollaries. First, as a conceptual thesis normative indivisibility lets us see how human rights constitute a unified system not liable to the typical counter-examples to indivisibility as mutual indispensability. Second, as a dialectical thesis, normative indivisibility can support linkage arguments in (...) defense of controversial human rights. And third, as a political thesis, normative indivisibility can show why the political thesis of indivisibility means that states lack discretion to ‘pick and choose’ which human rights to implement. (shrink)