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Philosophy, Rights and Natural LawEssays in Honour of Knud Haakonssen$
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Ian Hunter and Richard Whatmore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474449229

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474449229.001.0001

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Dignity and Equality in Pufendorf’s Natural Law Theory

Dignity and Equality in Pufendorf’s Natural Law Theory

(p.147) 6 Dignity and Equality in Pufendorf’s Natural Law Theory
Philosophy, Rights and Natural Law

Simone Zurbuchen

Edinburgh University Press

The chapter explores the ambiguity of the notion of dignity in Pufendorf’s natural law theory. On the one hand, dignity (dignatio) denotes the moral status of human beings in virtue of which they have to treat each other as equals. On the other hand, Pufendorf holds dignity and natural equality to be compatible with social inequality, notably with servitude and slavery. Moreover, when he deals with the comparative value and reputation (existimatio) of human beings, he admits that their moral status is conditioned by their readiness to behave as social beings. Human beings can thus lose their basic moral standing and are then considered as common enemies of all.

Keywords:   Dignity (dignitas, dignatio), Reputation (existimatio), Moral entities, Natural equality, Natural rights, Social inequality, Slavery, Common enemies of all (communes omnium hostes)

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