Dignity: A History

ISBN : 9780199386000

Remy Debes
416 ページ
140 x 210 mm
Oxford Philosophical Concepts

In everything from philosophical ethics to legal argument to public activism, it has become commonplace to appeal to the idea of human dignity. In such contexts, the concept of dignity typically signifies something like the fundamental moral status belonging to all humans. Remarkably, however, it is only in the last century that this meaning of the term has become standardized. Before this, dignity was instead a concept associated with social status. Unfortunately, this transformation remains something of a mystery in existing scholarship. Exactly when and why did "dignity" change its meaning? And before this change, was it truly the case that we lacked a conception of human worth akin to the one that "dignity" now represents? In this volume, leading scholars across a range of disciplines attempt to answer such questions by clarifying the presently murky history of "dignity," from classical Greek thought through the Middle Ages and Enlightenment to the present day.


Introduction Remy Debes
Chapter 1. Dignity in Homer and Classical Greece Patrice Rankine
Chapter 2. Dignity in Roman and Stoic Thought Miriam Griffin
Reflection: Dignity in Confucian and Buddhist Thought David Wong
Chapter 3. Dignity After the Fall Bonnie Kent
Chapter 4. Islamic Conceptions of Dignity: Historical Trajectories and Paradigms Mustafa Shah
Chapter 5. Dignity, Vile Bodies and Nakedness: Giovanni Pico and Giannozzo Manetti Brian Copenhaver
Reflection: Portraiture, Social Positioning, and Displays of Dignity in Early Modern London Edward Town
Chapter 6. Equal Dignity and Rights Stephen Darwall
Chapter 7. Human Dignity Before Kant: Denis Diderot's Passionate Person Remy Debes
Chapter 8. Dignity: Kant's Revolutionary Conception Oliver Sensen
Reflection: A Time For Dignity Charles Mills
Chapter 9. Bourgeois Dignity: Making the Self-Made Man Christine Henderson
Reflection: Taking refuge from history in morality: Marx, Morality, and Dignity Somogy Varga
Chapter 10. Universalizing Dignity in the Nineteenth Century Mikka LaVaque-Manty
Reflection: Why Bioethics isn't Ready for Human Dignity Marcus Duwell
Chapter 11. Sympathy and Dignity in Early Africana Philosophy Bernie Boxill
Reflection: Death and Dignity in American Law Emma Kaufman


Remy Debes is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis. He has published on a wide variety of areas in moral theory, including human dignity, respect, metaethics, moral psychology, empathy, and understanding. He has also published a variety of articles and chapters in the history of ethics, especially on the work of David Hume and Adam Smith. He is the co-editor of Ethical Sentimentalism, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.