"Aristocratic Dignity?"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
2012
Publication
Dignity, Rank, and Rights
Publication Type
Book Chapter
Abstract

On the academic lectern, too, we've leveled up. We're interested in good arguments, no matter how base or despicable other cultures might have imagined the speaker. 1£ there still are a lot of white guys in universities, no one takes seriously the claim that universities are theirs by right.

But it would be mistaken to imagine the lectern (or for that matter the public sphere) as a place for nothing but the bloodless give-and-take of reasons. It also is a site for jousting, for thrusts and parries, cutting objections, and even sneers-for the nerd's version of a duel. So I shall have to begin by disappointing sanguinary readers: it is always a pleasure to read and listen to Waldron. Then too, I am entirely sympathetic to his approach to human dignity: I think that modeling our moral understanding on the legal categories is quite promising.

Don't worry, I have some reservations. But mostly what I want to do is continue further down the same path. Here's the nub of what I'm after: aristocratic dignity, like the academic lectern, has attractive features. But it also has decidedly unattractive features. These features are themselves deeply embedded in modem law. They are embedded, too, more broadly in morality and everyday social life. I think Waldron is missing how much reconstruction aristocratic dignity needs to do the work he wants it to.

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