In this work, originally published in 1986, Victor Seidler explores the different notions of respect, equality and dependency in Kant’s moral writings. He illuminates central tensions and contradictions not only within Kant’s moral philosophy, but within the thinking and feeling about human dignity and social inequality which we take very much for granted within a liberal moral culture.
In challenging our assumption of the autonomy of morality, Seidler also questions our understanding of what it means for someone to live as a person in his or her own right. The autonomy of individuals cannot be assumed but has to be reasserted against relationships of subordination. This involves a break with a rationalist morality, so that respect for others involves respect for emotions, feelings, desires and needs, and establishes a fuller autonomy as a basis for freedom and justice.
1. Introduction: Respect, Equality and the Autonomy of Morality 2. Respect and Human Nature 3. Respect and Dignity 4. Respect, Impartiality and the Moral Law 5. Respect, Independence and Self-sufficiency 6. Obligation and Inequality 7. Liberalism, Inequality and Social Dependence 8. Liberalism and the Autonomy of Morality