Kant on Human Dignity
Aims and Scope
Immanuel Kant is often considered to be the source of the contemporary idea of human dignity, but his conception of human dignity and its relation to human value and to the requirement to respect others have not been widely understood. Kant on Human Dignity offers the first in-depth study in English of this subject. Based on a comprehensive analysis of all the passages in which Kant uses the term ‘dignity’, as well as an analysis of the most prominent arguments for a value of human beings in the Kant literature, the book carefully examines different ways of construing the relationship between dignity, value and respect for others. It takes seriously Kant’s Copernican Revolution in moral philosophy: Kant argues that moral imperatives cannot be based on any values without yielding heteronomy. Instead it is imperatives of reason that determine what is valuable. The requirement to respect all human beings is one such imperative. Respect for human beings does not follow from human dignity—for this would violate autonomy—but is an unconditional command of reason. Following this train of thought yields a unified account of Kant’s moral philosophy.