8th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Mazzone

Leonard Mazzone

Taking Humiliation Seriously

Everyday life shows how important the ideas of respect and self-respect are: despite this, there is no philosophical consensus about their nature, implications, as well as the social, economic and political consequences of these two notions. In the present paper, I attempt to clarify these two aspects. Paraphrasing a famous title of Ronald Dworkin (Dworkin R., 1977), I will argue that taking humiliation seriously is a necessary precondition to do the same with the concept of equal respect . In order to clarify this last concept, I will preliminarily distinguish it from esteem and honor: through these distinctions, I will argue that ER has constitutive importance to justify liberal and democratic institutions, although there is no theoretical agreement about which interpretation is more proper to the idea at issue. Despite this, present and past social claims paradoxically seem to show in which sense our democracies cannot do without ER. I will then focus on several philosophical suggestions, settled to connect the notion of ER with the moral issue to prevent any social conditions that could humiliate people. Afterward, I will show that a negative perspective of ER allows us to gain an overlapping consensus, not only with regard to the idea of ER, but to its proper contents as well: my intention consists in explaining how the negative attempt to avoid insulting conditions supplies us with a strong moral reason to justify ideals of liberal democratic institutions and with good guidance to recognize social claims as requests of ER.