November 20-21, 2013
Given a world characterized by sharp differences (religious and otherwise), the question of respect for and across difference is not only moral but political. What is the nature of respect, to whom or to what is it rightly owed, and of what importance is respect to the flourishing of individuals, communities, and societies in the wake of globalization?
Ever since Kant, the concept of respect (as a correlate of human dignity) has played a central role in Western political and moral culture. There is a widespread agreement that all persons have equal dignity and, on this account, demand equal respect (even if it is true that there is a lively discussion as to whether ‘dignity’ here needs a theological grounding and whether the widespread capacity-based accounts of dignity are adequate).
Yet many people today feel that such a “politics of equal respect” (say, as articulated by Ronald Dworkin) is inhospitable to cultural differences. As modern societies become increasingly multicultural, people of various cultures—particularly of various religions—have a stake not just in ensuring their integrity as persons but also in their survival and thriving as members of a particular group and, therefore, in the survival and thriving of that group. Do religious differences have dignity (to use a phrase of Jonathan Sacks), differences therefore demanding respect? Or do only persons, the bearers of those differences, have dignity and demand respect? If differences do demand respect, what would respect for differences entail, and what then would be the relation between dignity of and respect toward persons and dignity of and respect for differences?
Alon Goshen-Gottstein, “Arguing For/Over the Dignity of Difference” [lecture video]
Gilbert Meilaender, “Transcendence and Alienation”
Michael Peppard, “Paul Would Be Proud: The New Testament and Jewish-Gentile Respect”
Miroslav Volf, “Culture of Respect”