Dignity, Respect, and Self-respect. Ancient, Modern, and Contemporary Perspectives – Call for abstracts

Bologna, 26 – 27 May 2014

Department of History Culture Civilization (University of Bologna)

Cfa deadline: 20 December 2013

Contact: Dr. Elena Irrera (email: elena.irrera2@unibo.it)

The conference, which is part of the FIRB Research Project “Feeding Respect” (https://feedingrespect.wordpress.com/), is meant to bring together leading academics and researchers from different areas of philosophy and offer them the opportunity to exchange ideas on the topics of respect, self-respect, and dignity. We invite proposals for papers that explore the above mentioned concepts across a wide range of perspectives, including political, moral, legal philosophy and history of political thought. Please email a title and a 500-word description of your proposed paper, along with your academic affiliation and contact information to Carla Jemma (carla.jemma@unipv.it). Please direct conference inquiries to Dr Elena Irrera (elena.irrera2@unibo.it).  We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. Submissions should be prepared for blind review.

Decisions regarding the program will be made by February 2014.

Papers should be delivered in English.

Keynote speakers: Prof. Colin Bird (University of Virginia)

                               Prof. Robin Dillon (Lehigh University)


The ideas of respect (understood in terms of respect for persons as well as in terms of self-respect) and dignity have attracted an enormous amount of philosophical attention in recent years, especially within the fields of ethics, sociology, political theory, and legal philosophy. Notably, as many political philosophers have contended (see for instance Rawls, Raz, Nussbaum, Hill, Feinberg), the concepts at issue – either separately examined or addressed in their mutual relations – have the power to promote a political praxis based on the recognition of the collective identities of oppressed, subordinated or marginal groups. So understood, respect and defense of human dignity can be envisaged not only as general guides to ethical practice, but also as two of the most forceful normative political principles to which liberal democratic institutions are committed in their attempt to negotiate different types of tensions inherent in political life.

Such a vivid upsurge of interest in the ideals of respect and dignity has not been matched by a similar degree of conceptual clarity relative to their meaning, reciprocal relations and role in the implementation of policies. Even more remarkably, rare are the attempts to address the concepts at issue from the perspective of history of philosophy and history of ideas. The aim of this conference is to foster discussion and contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the functions and semantic nuances of respect and dignity from both a theoretical and a properly historic-philosophical standpoint.

The conference will address the following questions:

  • What are the relationships between respect for persons and self-respect?
  • What kind/s of respect is/are involved in the recognition of the moral authority supposedly possessed by human beings? How does such an authority shape the nature of individual dignity?
  •  What are the main underpinnings of the idea of “equal respect”? How does the idea of respect connect with that of equality of status?
  • What do we mean by “inherent dignity” of a human being?
  • What are the social bases self-respect? How do these contribute to the promotion of fair policies?
  • Is there any attempt to conceptualize different types of respect and/or dignity in the history of philosophy? In case there is, did it affect the contemporary reflection on the problems of respect and justice, and how?
  • What are the main underpinnings of Kant’s view of respect and dignity? What is the ultimate object of respect in his philosophy? The moral law? Persons?
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One Response to Dignity, Respect, and Self-respect. Ancient, Modern, and Contemporary Perspectives – Call for abstracts

  1. Pingback: Feeding Respect: Eindrücke von der Konferenz | Akademie für angewandte Philosophie

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