On Political Morality and the Conditions for Warranted Self-Respect

07 Dec 2017

In my recent book Liberalism with Excellence (2017: chapter 7), I have expounded at length a conception of warranted self-respect. That conception, which draws heavily though far from uncritically on the scattered passages about self-respect in the writings of John Rawls, is central to my defense of a variety of liberalism that combines and transfigures certain aspects of Rawlsianism and perfectionism. However, it is also central to the positions taken in some earlier books of mine on capital punishment and torture. (Kramer, The ethics of capital punishment, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011; Torture and moral integrity, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014) Although my understanding of warranted self-respect was presented far more briefly or obliquely in each of those earlier books than in Liberalism with Excellence, it in fact underlies both my limited defense of the death penalty and my absolutist insistence that the use of interrogational torture is never morally permissible. The present paper will recount the gist of my conception of warranted self-respect and will then explain how that conception figures pivotally in my ruminations on the diverse matters of political morality that have been mentioned here.