In The Robust Demands of the Good Pettit claims that the three goods he takes to be central to the good, namely attachment, virtue and respect, share a common structure: they are robustly demanding in that they require the provision of an associated benefit not just under actual but across various possible circumstances. The aim of this paper is to show that the unified account of the good misconstrues the nature of respect. First, I argue that Pettit’s account of respect as robust non-interference cannot account for the particularly robust kind of robustness that respect requires and fails to clarify the relation between respect and freedom. Second, drawing on Pettit’s earlier work, I propose to reconceive of respect as the robust provision of discursive address. This account solves the ambiguities of Pettit’s account of respect. However, it suggests that the particularly robust demands of respect are demands of the right, not the good.
A first version of this paper was presented at a workshop on Pettit’s The Robust Demands of the Good at the Free University Berlin in 2016. I am particularly grateful to Victoria McGeer and Michael Smith for a stimulating discussion of my claims and to the editors and two anonymous referees for helpful comments on the manuscript.
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