Dignity, Rank, and Rights

Dignity, Rank, and Rights

Hardback Berkeley Tanner Lectures

By (author) Jeremy Waldron, Edited by Meir Dan-Cohen

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 206mm x 20mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 29 November 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199915431
  • ISBN 13: 9780199915439
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 309,721

Product description

Writers on human dignity roughly divide between those who stress the social origins of this concept and its role in marking rank and hierarchy, and those who follow Kant in grounding dignity in an abstract and idealized philosophical conception of human beings. In these lectures, Jeremy Waldron contrives to combine attractive features of both strands. In the first lecture, Waldron presents a conception of dignity that preserves its ancient association with rank and station, thus allowing him to tap rich historical resources while avoiding what many perceive as the excessive abstraction and dubious metaphysics of the Kantian strand. At the same time he argues for a conception of human dignity that amounts to a generalization of high status across all human beings, and so attains the appealing universality of the Kantian position. The second lecture focuses particularly on the importance of dignity - understood in this way - as a status defining persons' relation to law: their presentation as persons capable of self-applying the law, capable of presenting and arguing a point of view, and capable of responding to law's demands without brute coercion. Together the two lectures illuminate the relation between dignity conceived as the ground of rights and dignity conceived as the content of rights; they also illuminate important ideas about dignity as noble bearing and dignity as the subject of a right against degrading treatment; and they help us understand the sense in which dignity is better conceived as a status than as a kind of value.

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Author information

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor of Law at New York University. Meir Dan-Cohen is Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Review quote

Waldrons take on human dignity is novel. It contains a bold inversion of almost all philosophical treatments of dignity as something like a metaphysical ground for moral claims. Matthew Noah Smith, Oxford Journals Clippings: Analysis Waldron's take on human dignity is novel. It contains a bold inversion of almost all philosophical treatments of dignity as something like a metaphysical ground for moral claims. Waldron eschews this approach by understanding dignity as a substantive and structural feature of the way that legal orders establish rank and statusELthis bold approach allows Waldron to move forward a much-needed philosophical conversation about this deeply interesting and important concept. Analysis

Table of contents

Introduction ; Meir Dan-Cohen ; Dignity, Rank, and Rights ; Jeremy Waldron ; 1. Dignity and Rank ; 2. Law, Dignity and Self-Control ; Comments ; Response to Jeremy Waldron ; Wai Chee Dimock ; Aristocratic Dignity? ; Don Herzog ; Dignity, Rank and Rights ; Michael Rosen ; Reply to Commentators ; Jeremy Waldron ; Reply ; Index