Philosophical Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Thomas Provenzola


Dignity, Friendship, Irreplacability, Love, Marcel, Value


Aesthetics | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Other Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind


Many people seem to understand the term 'dignity' as applying to all human persons regardless of their race, creed, sex, or religious beliefs. As to what the concept 'dignity' means is a difficult and complex problem. Is the concept 'dignity' an empty concept, void of meaning? What does it mean when we say that this or that person has dignity? Most of the current philosophical literature has very little to say as to what dignity is. I will argue that what we need to find is a concept of dignity that accounts for both the infinite and the irreplaceable value of the human person. Following Kant and Linda Zagzebski, we can say that to be irreplaceable is to be above all comparison and to be of infinite value is to be above all price. This paper will explore how to understand the two aspects of dignity; infinite and irreplaceable value as being necessary components in understanding our intuitions that we have about human persons having 'dignity'. To show how both aspects of dignity are necessary, this paper will explore intuitions of the irreplaceability and infinite value of human persons by looking at the concrete experiences that we have of friendship and love. We will look at Gabriel Marcel's definition of the human person and methodology to see if we can better understand the irreplaceable aspect of the human person. In the last few pages of this thesis we will see how to metaphysically tie the knot between these two aspects.