Wednesday, October 02, 2013

O'Neill on Treating Persons as Persons

A full understanding of treating others as persons should, I suggest, take some account of the particularities of persons. It must allow that we take seriously the possibility of dissent and consent for others who, far from being ideally rational and independent beings, have their particular limitations that affect their abilities to dissent and to consent variously in varying circumstances. We are concerned not only to be treated as a person -- any person -- but to some extent to be treated as the particular persons we are. We are not merely possibly consenting adults, but particular friends, colleagues, clients, rivals, relations, lovers, neighbors; we have each of us a particular history, character, set of abilities and weaknesses, interests and desires. Even when others do not deceive or coerce us, or treat us in any ways as tools, we may yet feel that they do not treat us as persons either.

[Onora O'Neill, Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant's Practical Philosophy, Cambridge (New York: 1989) p. 111.]

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