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The ubiquity and significance of respect and self-respect in everyday life largely explains why philosophers, particularly in moral and political philosophy, have been interested in these two concepts. They turn up in a multiplicity of philosophical contexts, including discussions of justice and equality, injustice and oppression, autonomy and agency, moral and political rights and duties, moral motivation and moral development, cultural diversity and toleration, punishment and political violence. The concepts are also invoked in bioethics, environmental ethics, business ethics, workplace ethics, and a host of other applied ethics contexts. Although a wide variety of things are said to deserve respect, contemporary philosophical interest in respect has overwhelmingly been focused on respect for persons, the idea that all persons should be treated with respect simply because they are persons. Respect for persons is a central concept in many ethical theories; some theories treat it as the very essence of morality and the foundation of all other moral duties and obligations. This focus owes much to the 18 th century German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who argued that all and only persons (., rational autonomous agents) and the moral law they autonomously legislate are appropriate objects of the morally most significant attitude of respect. Although honor, esteem, and prudential regard played important roles in moral and political theories before him, Kant was the first major Western philosopher to put respect for persons, including oneself as a person, at the very center of moral theory, and his insistence that persons are ends in themselves with an absolute dignity who must always be respected has become a core ideal of modern humanism and political liberalism. In recent years many people have argued that moral respect ought also to be extended to things other than persons, such as nonhuman living things and the natural environment.

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