On the idea of intrinsic human worth

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This paper argues that the idea of intrinsic worth encompasses all human beings, no matter how they are circumstanced. This concept needs to be understood transcendentally, not prescriptively. These terms are explained, with particular reference to Kant. It also argues that discourses of identity and recognition can best be understood through the idea of human worth. The paper suggests that human worth cannot be explicitly defined but needs to be expressed indirectly through signs and gestures. One way of doing this is through the invocation of sympathy and to this end a version of Hume’s account of sympathy is presented. The paper concludes with some remarks as to how ‘human intrinsic worth’ might be incorporated into pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-314
Number of pages15
JournalEthics and Education
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020


  • Intrinsic worth
  • identity
  • recognition
  • Kant
  • sympathy

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