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Kantian dignity and social economics


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  • Mark White


Many social economists endorse the ethics of Immanuel Kant, specifically his emphasis on the dignity of humanity and the equal respect due all persons. Based on these tenets, Kant mandates a social outlook in which concern for others, characterized by negative duties of respect and positive duties of beneficence, are broadly required of all rational agents. However, some of the positions that social economists derive from Kantian dignity actually violate it, such as support for a welfare state and opposition to the institution of wage employment. I will show that both of these positions are inconsistent with the traditional understanding of Kantian dignity, suggesting that social economists should either ground their positions on a different concept of dignity, or revise them to remain consistent with Kant's specific sense of dignity.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Forum for Social Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 1-11

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Handle: RePEc:spr:fosoec:v:32:y:2003:i:2:p:1-11

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  1. Edward O'Boyle, 2001. "Personalist Economics: Unorthodox and Counter-Cultural," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(4), pages 367-393.
  2. Lanse Minkler, 2001. "Review Essay on Economics for the Common Good," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(1), pages 103-108.
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