The Value of Humanity

The Value of Humanity

by L. Nandi Theunissen


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L. Nandi Theunissen develops a non-Kantian account of the value of human beings. Against the Kantian tradition, in which humanity is absolutely valuable and unlike the value of anything else, Theunissen outlines a relational proposal according to which our value is continuous with the value of other valuable things. She takes the Socratic starting point that good is affecting, and more particularly, that good is a notion of benefit. If people are bearers of value, the proposal is that our value is no exception. Theunissen explores the possibility that our value is explained through reciprocal relations, or relations of interdependence, as when—as daughters, or teachers, or friends—we benefit others by being part or constitutive of relationships with them. She also investigates the possibility that we can be said to stand in a valuable relationship with ourselves. Ultimately, in The Value of Humanity, she proposes that people are of value because we are constituted in such a way that we can be good for ourselves in the sense that we are able to lead flourishing lives. Intuitively, a person matters because she matters to herself in a very particular sort of way; to appropriate a phrase, she is a being for whom her life can be an issue.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198832645
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/06/2020
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 8.60(w) x 5.60(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

L. Nandi Theunissen, University of Pittsburgh

L. Nandi Theunissen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Table of Contents

1. Common Humanity
2. Of Absolute and Relative Worth
3. Must We Be Just Plain Good?
4. On Valuing and the Good Life
5. The Normative Significance of Human Beings

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