From Self-Respect to Respect for Others



The leading accounts of respect for others usually assume that persons have a rational nature, which is a marvelous thing, so they should be respected like other objects of ‘awesome’ value. Kant's views about the ‘value’ of humanity, which have inspired contemporary discussions of respect, have been interpreted in this way. I propose an alternative interpretation in which Kant proceeds from our own rational self-regard, through our willingness to reciprocate with others, to duties of respect for others. This strategy, which shares some similarities with moral contractualism, offers a way to justify other-regarding moral requirements from self-regarding rational dispositions.