In the kingdom of ends everything has either a price or a dignity. What has a price
can be replaced with something else as its equivalent; what ... is raised above all
price and therefore admits of no equivalent has a dignity ...
That which constitutes the condition under which something can be an end in itself
has not merely a relative value, that is, a price, but an inner value, that is dignity.
To treat someone with dignity is ... to respect their dignity. ... To respect someone's
dignity by treating them with dignity requires that one shows them respect, either
positively, by acting towards them in a way that gives expression to one's respect,
or at least, negatively, by refraining from behavior that would show disrespect.
We can’t pursue our lives without thinking that our lives matter—though one has to
be careful here to distinguish the relevant sense of “matter.” Simply to take actions
on the basis of desires is to act as if your life matters. It’s inconceivable to
pursue a human life without these kinds of presumptions—that your own life matters
to some extent. Clinical depression is when you are convinced that you don’t and
will never matter. That’s a pathological attitude, and it highlights, by its pathology,
the way in which the mattering instinct normally functions. To be a fully functioning,
non-depressed person is to live and to act, to take it for granted that you can act
on your own behalf, pursue your goals and projects. And that we have a right to
be treated in accord with our own commitment to our lives mattering. We quite naturally
flare up into outrage and indignation when others act in violation of the presumption
grounding the pursuance of our lives. So this is what I mean by the mattering instinct,
that commitment to one’s own life that is inseparable from pursuing a coherent human
A circle of concern includes those to whom we extend empathy and compassion; those
whom we are prepared to see as people, on the same footing of equality as ourselves.
We are all at the centre of concentric circles of concern, growing larger outwards
from a central point:
those with whom I collaborate
Each has a separate morality associated with it, which builds on and incorporates
the ones before it. These separate moralities may sometimes conflict, leading to
a moral dilemma.
Universal empathy and compassion
Every human being is a human being.
The way that has worked best is to point out the similarities between ourselves and
those who are suffering—to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Even though
I do not look like you or act like you, nonetheless I am like you when it comes to
the capacity for suffering, and so I deserve to be treated the same as you. It is
precisely our ability to imagine the plight of the nameless and faceless that elicits
our empathy and our desire to act.
Denise Cummins PhD, Dr Robert Cummins – “Why Paul Bloom Is Wrong About Empathy and
Morality” – Psychology Today