New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

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Theories of dignity have to navigate between two conceptions: the egalitarian idea of human dignity and the old idea of dignitas, connected with hierarchy, rank, and office. One possible way of bridging the gap between the two is to talk of the dignity of the citizen. In modern republics and democracies, the dignity of the citizen extends to a large sector of the population and connotes something about the general quality of the relation between the government and the governed. This chapter first explores Immanuel Kant’s account of the dignity of the citizen, and then it pursues the implications of the dignity of the citizen for modern society and modern theories of human dignity. Though the dignity of the citizen and human dignity are not the same concept, they are congruent in many respects and the former casts considerable light on the latter — in particular on the connection between dignity and responsibility and dignity and transparency in social and political relations.

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citizenship, contractarianism, dignity, human dignity, Kant, responsibilities, transparency