SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Human dignity beyond Christian thought and Kantian philosophy: is there a scientific ground?
(Ethics, English)

Human dignity is a crucial concept in many ethical systems as well as in law, especially in international and constitutional human rights law. It is said that it is foundation of human rights and whereas we know what human rights are, the nature, content and grounds of human dignity remain highly unclear. There are two main philosophical traditions discussing human dignity: Christian thought, especially Catholic, referring to Imago Dei concept and Kantian ethics claiming that every human possess human dignity due to being the only one "end in himself" and being able to establish moral laws. Modern analytic philosophy tend to take advantage of Kantian ethics and along with analytic notion of the concept of person it developed the view that human dignity refers to human autonomy (Griffin 2008).

While Christian thought and Kantian ethics have constituted a large part of western thought in a few past centuries, so called "scientific world-view" seems to prevail as deep, subconscious and intuitive way of thinking about world for a contemporary man. It is also reflected in contemporary analytic philosophy by naturalistic program that would like to develop philosophy with very strong reference to natural sciences.

The aim of this paper is to propose scientific grounds for human dignity in accordance with analytic program of naturalization and contemporary analytic metaphysics. Conditions to be met for such potential grounds of human nature involve something worth or positively assessed that can be found in those natural sciences that deal with human nature. As to such natural sciences, I will take advantage of evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, which claim that human nature is constituted by tendency to cooperate (Tomasello 2009), or in a different formulation, that the basic motive in human behaviour is limited altruism and the basic manner of behavior is limited prudence (Załuski 2009). I will present and analyse those theses and argue that they constitute human nature in scientific approach. Then, I will argue that such a human nature can be a scientific ground for human dignity -- it involves something positively assessed and lies on a more fundamental, scientific, level of reality than human dignity.

I will present those issues in two much broader philosophical frameworks of analytic philosophy: naturalism, especially methodological naturalism, and realism. As for the former, I will precisely define the concept of "nature" I use, which is nature as a set of dominant tendencies. As for the latter, I will employ relation of metaphysical grounding -- a highly discussed among contemporary analytic metaphysicians relation of metaphysical determination. I will present how, by taking advantage of those frameworks, human nature can constitute the ground of human dignity. Lastly, I will demonstrate consequences of such a naturalized account of human dignity, especially that it can provide strong counterargument against the objection of western ethnocentrism towards contemporary philosophy of human rights.

Chair: Amit Pinsker
Time: 12:00-12:30, 19 September 2019 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.004

Szymon Mazurkiewicz 
(Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)

PhD student in Law and MA student in philosohy on Jagiellonian University, Cracow working in the area of philosophy of law, especially analytic legal theory and philosophy of human rights. I focus on studying (meta)metaphysical interpretation of many legal theory claims.

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