Volume 16, 2000
Race, Social Identity, and Human Dignity
Race, Social Identity, Human Dignity
Respect for Individuals
This general discussion asks just what social identity is and to what extent race, gender, and ethnicity contribute to it—the answer being, basically, very little. Social identity is how we are seen and classified by others, involving, in part, classifications that are empirically checkable; but there are also attitudes at work that are not wholly subject to testing. A major concern here is respect for and maintenance of human dignity, which in turn is analyzed into a fundamental “core” notion, and a more “special” notion. It is argued that the core notion stems from general humanity and that respecting it is basic to all good social relations. The “special” notions, on the other hand, are more variable and we need to be careful not to subordinate the core conception to special ones; doing this might have the ill effect, say, of taking it that someone’s right not to be murdered is due to race or gender.