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Republican Dignity: The Importance of Taking Offence

Abstract

This paper analyses the republican notion of non-domination from the viewpoint of individual dignity. It determines the aspect of individual dignity that republicans are concerned with and scrutinises how it is safeguarded by non-domination. I argue that the notion of non-domination as it is formulated by Pettit contains a number of ambiguities that need to be addressed. I discuss these ambiguities and argue for specific solutions that place great importance on a person’s moral beliefs and his status as a moral being amongst others. Furthermore, I argue that the impunity interpretation is to be favoured over the immunity interpretation of non-domination. I show that whilst these solutions accord well with many important republican tenets, they have other implications that contradict known republican positions. In particular, I show there is both room and a need for retributivism within republicanism.

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Acknowledgments

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the ESF-LiU Conference `Pathways of Human Dignity: From Cultural Traditions to a New Paradigm' (Vadstena, Sweden), the `5th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy' (Pavia, Italy) and a lecture at the Department of Philosophy of the Central European University (Budapest, Hungary), and I benefited greatly from the ensuing discussions. I also wish to thank Ian Carter, János Kis, Thomas Hill, Geoffrey Brennan, Gerald Postema, Bert van Roermund, David Janssens, Kristen Bell, an anonymous referee and the editors of Law and Philosophy for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Jan-Willem van der Rijt.

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Open Access This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0), which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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van der Rijt, JW. Republican Dignity: The Importance of Taking Offence. Law and Philos 28, 465–492 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10982-008-9043-9

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Keywords

  • Moral Belief
  • Moral Disagreement
  • Retributive Justice
  • Arbitrary Power
  • Negative Liberty