Digest of terms

respect

distinctively moral respect is a special kind of regard thought to be owed to persons as having a distinct kind of status, and setting limits on how they are to be treated. It is central to Kantian ethics and would be claimed by many to be rooted historically in Christian ethics. In the latter case it was tied traditionally to belief in the soul, whereas in modern Humanist ethics it tends to be tied to aspects of human nature, in particular individuals' exercise of reason in reaching judgments of value as equally important members of the moral community. Such judgments may include many of a consequentialist nature, but their pursuit has to be within the limits imposed by proper respect, so advocates of respect for persons oppose consequentialism as a comprehensive moral theory. One possible implication is that such respect should be safeguarded by the ascription of rights, but human rights will then be thought to differ significantly from animal rights, animals being owed a duty of care because of their ability to experience pleasure and pain, but not of respect (though increasingly this distinction has become rather blurred). A further implication is to link respect with the notions of autonomy and equality.

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