Dignity at the Limit: Jean-Luc Nancy on the Possibility of Incommensurable Worth

Continental Philosophy Review 49 (3):309-323 (2016)
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Dignity, according to some recent arguments, is a useless concept, giving vague expression to moral intuitions that are better captured by other, better defined concepts. In this paper, I defend the concept of dignity against such skeptical arguments. I begin with a description of the defining features of the Kantian conception of dignity. I then examine one of the strongest arguments against that conception, advanced by Arthur Schopenhauer in On the Basis of Morality. After considering some standard accounts of dignity, showing how they fail adequately to address Schopenhauer’s concern, I propose and defend a new account of dignity, drawing on the ontology of Jean-Luc Nancy.
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