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Journal Article

The Politics of Self-Respect: A Feminist Perspective

Diana T. Meyers
Hypatia
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring, 1986), pp. 83-100
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Hypatia, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3810064
Page Count: 18

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Topics: Self esteem, Life plans, Womens rights, Respect, Femininity, Feminism, Aristocracy, Slavery, Child labor, Morality
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The Politics of Self-Respect: A Feminist Perspective
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Abstract

Recent liberal moral and political philosophy has placed great emphasis on the good of self-respect. But it is not always evident what is involved in self-respect, nor is it evident how societies can promote it. Assuming that self-respect is highly desirable, I begin by considering how people can live in a self-respecting fashion, and I argue that autonomous envisaging and fulfillment of one's own life plans is necessary for self-respect. I next turn to the question of how societal implementation of rights may affect self-respect, and I urge that discretionary rights, which allow people to decline the benefits they confer, support self-respect more effectively than mandatory rights, which forbid people to refuse the benefits they confer. I conclude by examining the import of these contentions for feminist theory. I believe that my arguments are of particular concern to women because women have traditionally been victimized by a mandatory right to play a distinctively "feminine" role which has undermined their self-respect.

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