Forum Philosophicum

Volume 27, Issue 2, Autumn 2022

Selected Phenomenological Studies

Alicja PietrasOrcid-ID
Pages 261-272

Hans Wagner’s Transcendental Argument for the Idea of Human Dignity

Hans Wagner (1917–2000), using the achievements of German transcendental philosophy, gives a transcendental argument for the idea of human dignity. He claims that to ground the validity of human thinking and all its products (e.g. culture), we must accept the validity of the idea of human dignity. The structure of my paper is as follows: First, I consider what it means to give a transcendental justification of something. I reconstruct the neo-Kantian’s understanding of transcendental method. Then I argue that Wagner’s idea of human dignity as a foundation of every ethics and law is nothing other than a fruitful interpretation and continuation, perhaps only making explicit Kant’s main ethical ideas. To make this more clear I present the relation between Kant’s ethics and the material ethics of values and, following Wagner, I argue that grounding ethics on the idea of self-determination of human will does not necessarily lead to formalism in the form in which it was criticised by the representatives of the material ethics of values. Finally, I reconstruct Wagner’s argument for the claim that the idea of human dignity is a transcendental condition for the possibility of ethics and law in general.