Appeals to the innate dignity of humanity and claims about the need to treat people with dignity and respect are commonplace in a range of philosophical and public debates on everything from bioethics to the foundation of universal human rights. But although foundational appeals to human dignity are commonplace, what dignity is, and what it means to have it, remains less than clear. This raises important philosophical questions, such as: Why do human beings have dignity? Is dignity something that all humans have? Can animals have dignity? Is dignity something that can be gained and lost? Does dignity come in degrees? Most philosophical approaches to dignity are grounded in the work of Immanuel Kant. But Kant’s conception of dignity is contested by scholars. So what exactly is Kant’s conception of dignity? And how does Kant’s conception of dignity differ from alternative conceptions of dignity, such as Martha Nussbaum’s Aristotelian-inspired view? This leads to further questions, such as: Does the basis of dignity lie in our autonomy or our needs (or both)? Finally, how does the concept of dignity get used in moral, political and legal
debates, such as in bioethics?
These and other important questions will be explored in a two day conference on Dignity to be held at Macquarie University on November 21 and 22, 2013.
Attendance is free, but numbers are limited. If you would like to register your interest in attending the conference, then please email Paul.Formosa@mg.edu.au.
- Marcus Düwell – Utrecht University
- Paul Formosa – Macquarie University
- Samuel Kerstein – University of Maryland, College Park
- Catriona Mackenzie – Macquarie University
- Sarah Clark Miller – Penn State University
- Doris Schroeder – University of Central Lancashire
- Oliver Sensen – Tulane University