Respect Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on respect.

Respect is a broad term. Experts interpret it in different ways. Generally speaking, it is a positive feeling or action expressed towards something. Furthermore, it could also refer to something held in high esteem or regard. Showing Respect is a sign of ethical behavior . Unfortunately, in the contemporary era, there has been undermining of the value of Respect. Most noteworthy, there are two essential aspects of Respect. These aspects are self-respect and respect for others.


Self-Respect refers to loving oneself and behaving with honour and dignity. It reflects Respect for oneself. An individual who has Self-Respect would treat himself with honour. Furthermore, lacking Self-Respect is a matter of disgrace. An individual who does not respect himself, should certainly not expect Respect from others. This is because nobody likes to treat such an individual with Respect.

Self-Respect is the foundation of a healthy relationship . In relationships, it is important to respect your partner. Similarly, it is equally important to Respect yourself. A Self-Respecting person accepts himself with his flaws. This changes the way how others perceive the individual. An individual, who honours himself, would prevent others from disrespecting him. This certainly increases the value of the individual in the eyes of their partner.

Lacking Self-Respect brings negative consequences. An individual who lacks Self-Respect is treated like a doormat by others. Furthermore, such an individual may engage in bad habits . Also, there is a serious lack of self-confidence in such a person. Such a person is likely to suffer verbal or mental abuse. The lifestyle of such an individual also becomes sloppy and untidy.

Self-Respect is a reflection of toughness and confidence. Self-Respect makes a person accept more responsibility. Furthermore, the character of such a person would be strong. Also, such a person always stands for his rights, values, and opinions.

Self-Respect improves the morality of the individual. Such an individual has a good ethical nature. Hence, Self-Respect makes you a better person.

Self-Respect eliminates the need to make comparisons. This means that individuals don’t need to make comparisons with others. Some people certainly compare themselves with others on various attributes. Most noteworthy, they do this to seek validation of others. Gaining Self-Respect ends all that.

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Respect of Others

Everyone must Respect fellow human beings. This is an essential requirement of living in a society. We certainly owe a basic level of Respect to others. Furthermore, appropriate Respect must be shown to people who impact our lives. This includes our parents, relatives, teachers, friends, fellow workers, authority figures, etc.

One of the best ways of showing respect to others is listening. Listening to another person’s point of view is an excellent way of Respect. Most noteworthy, we must allow a person to express his views even if we disagree with them.

Another important aspect of respecting others is religious/political views. Religious and cultural beliefs of others should be given a lot of consideration. Respecting other people’s Religions is certainly a sign of showing mature Respect.

Everyone must Respect those who are in authority. Almost everyone deals with people in their lives that hold authority. So, a healthy amount of Respect should be given to such people. People of authority can be of various categories. These are boss, police officer, religious leader, teacher, etc.

In conclusion, Respect is a major aspect of human socialization. It is certainly a precious value that must be preserved. Respectful behaviour is vital for human survival.

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Essay On Respect

Essay on Respect: Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect.’ We all deserve respect from others when they interact with us, regardless of how we are as individuals. Polite, considerate and courteous behaviour are all part of respect. Respect is a larger concept which encompasses treating others the way you would like to be treated, listening to different viewpoints with an open mind, and refraining from causing harm or offence to others. It is considered a fundamental aspect of healthy relationships, effective communication, and a harmonious society. Let’s discuss more through some samples in the essay on respect.

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Essay on respect in 100 words, essay on respect in 200 words, essay on respect in 300 words.

Also Read: World Sight Day Activities to Plan for Your School

Respect is a two-way concept; you receive respect when you show respect to others. Whether you are in a professional or a personal environment, talking respectfully is always appreciated. Respect is not just talking politely but a profound acknowledgement of the dignity of others. 

Respect involves listening to others with an open mind, appreciating the uniqueness of everyone, and refraining from actions that cause harm or undermine the well-being of others. We can consider respect as a timeless virtue. It is necessary for maintaining healthy relationships, communities, and societies. From the way we talk to the way we behave, respect is highlighted in our every move.

Also Read: Essay on Parents

‘Respect is what we owe; love, is what we give.’ – Philip James Bailey

How can you expect others to respect you when you cannot serve it to others? We never disrespect people whom we care about. Neither do they. As humans when interacting with others, we expect respectful behaviour from others. It is considered the fundamental aspect of binding human interactions and enabling us to live in harmony with others. 

We can acknowledge and appreciate people, which is one of the most important parts of respectful behaviour. At its essence, respect transcends cultural barriers and fosters empathy, understanding, and kindness among individuals.

Respect is shown via thoughtful actions and considerate behaviour. It involves treating others with courtesy, refraining from causing harm and valuing diverse perspectives. When one respects another person, one listens attentively, seeking to understand rather than to judge. This practice nurtures a culture of open communication and mutual understanding, facilitating the resolution of conflicts and the forging of strong, enduring relationships.

Our respectful attitude and behaviour cultivate a sense of belonging and safety in social settings. In school, respect forms the basis for effective learning and growth. The respectful behaviour of teachers and students fosters an atmosphere of trust and collaboration, nurturing an environment where knowledge is shared, and intellectual curiosity is encouraged.

‘Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.’ – Clint Eastwood

Respect functions as the cornerstone of considerate and empathetic human interaction, forming the basis for a harmonious and equitable society. What we learn is what we say to others. Our respectful behaviour shows our inherent value and dignity. It also fosters empathy, understanding, and compassion, nurturing relationships that are founded on mutual admiration and consideration.

Showing a passive attitude that reflects in one’s behaviour and treatment of others shows who we really are. It entails treating individuals with dignity and kindness, valuing their perspectives, and honouring their rights and boundaries. When one demonstrates respect, they engage in thoughtful communication, listen attentively, and seek to understand differing viewpoints. Such actions lay the groundwork for trust and cooperation, facilitating the resolution of conflicts and the cultivation of strong, enduring bonds.

There are three types of respect: Respect for Personhood; Respect for Authority; and Respect for Honour.

  • Respect for personhood is the recognition and acknowledgement of the inherent dignity, autonomy, and worth of every individual. This concept emphasizes the importance of treating each person as a unique and valuable being, deserving of ethical consideration and moral regard.
  • Respect for authority acknowledges the legitimacy and position of individuals or institutions that hold power or influence in a particular context. It involves recognizing the roles and responsibilities of those in positions of authority and adhering to their directives or decisions within the boundaries of ethical and legal standards.
  • Respect for honour upholding the principles of integrity, dignity, and moral uprightness in both oneself and others

Respect is not confined to personal relationships and educational institutions; it is a fundamental element that shapes the fabric of society.

Ans: Here are some best tips for respecting people: act responsibly, be empathetic, accept mistakes, listen to others, be relentlessly proactive, pay attention to non-verbal communication, keep your promises, etc.

Ans: To write an essay you need to highlight what respect means to you and how it can serve as an effective tool for coexisting with others. The concept of respect goes beyond talking politely and actively listening. It is considered a fundamental aspect of healthy relationships, effective communication, and a harmonious society. 

Ans: Here are three types of respect: Respect for Personhood, Respect for authority and Respect for honour.

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Essays on Respect

By writing a respect essay you can study respect and different associated topics, like self-esteem. Respect can be shown through polite communication as well as thoughtful actions towards a person – all essay-writers of respect essays agree on that. It is known that if a person shows respect to others with disregard for their social status, gender, ethnicity, level of income, etc. is speaks highly of said person’s moral fiber. Many essays on respect explore different reasons for resecting. Respect is often given in recognition of someone's input into one's life or society. However, our samples or respect essays will remind you to respect people, the world, and all its inhabitants without a specific reason and in the same way as we wish to be respected. Our respect essay samples will teach you all you need to know about respect for your essay, so stay tuned!

The establishment of mutual employee esteem in the organization setup is critical to its effectiveness. Employee mutual respect raises the organization s awareness of effective human resource practices and helps to create a positive working environment. Employee harassment and discrimination, for example, are decreased by management. Mutual respect fosters a...

Words: 1132

Black Nationalism's advocates not only fought for the liberation of people of color, but also for their empowerment. Some of the courageous persons who made a significant effort to guarantee that black people were treated with respect are Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. They interacted with Africans in a variety...

Words: 1219

The Outdoor Setting Corinthian columns support a cloister; Virgin Mary is sitting with her head down to show respect for Angel Gabriel, who stands just before her; both Virgin Mary and Angel Gabriel are seated in the cloister to separate themselves from the now unholy world; reflections of the architecture and...

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In terms of theme and rhyme, this paper produces a poem that is modeled after the poem To My Close and Caring Husband. Its core focus will be the quest for unity. It will also take a textual, stylistic, and thematic approach, similar to Bradstreet s poem. In...

Introduction Since humans are created in God s picture, life is incredibly precious to Him. Furthermore, He has shown His deep love for humans by sending His only son to atone for their sins. Christ came into the world so that those who believe in Him could have life and have...

Negotiating in Saudi Arabia It is always necessary to remain reasonably polite when negotiating or doing business negotiations in Saudi Arabia (Donaldson, 2002). To prevent humiliation and embarrassment, dignity and respect are key values of their business culture. In this respect, because it could be considered insensitive, one should not put...

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May 4, 2023

Essays on Respect: Delving into the Core Values and Implications for Society

Respect is not just a word, it's a powerful force that can change the world. Struggling to write an essay on respect? These examples are here to guide you!

Have you ever noticed how a simple act of respect, like holding the door open for someone or saying 'thank you,' can brighten someone's day and make the world feel a little kinder? Respect is a fundamental value that we all need to thrive, yet it can sometimes feel in short supply in our fast-paced, competitive world. 

That's why in this series of essays, we're diving deep into the topic of respect: what it means, why it matters, and how we can cultivate it in our daily lives. We'll explore the power of reverence, examining how showing respect can be a transformative act that creates connection, understanding, and empathy. We'll also delve into the role of respect in relationships, discussing how treating others with dignity and kindness can be a foundation for healthy connections and flourishing communities. And, of course, we'll discuss the practical applications of respect, including how it can enhance communication and lead to more productive, satisfying interactions. 

By the end of this blog post, we hope you'll come away with a renewed appreciation for the value of respect and a host of tools and strategies for practicing it in your daily life. Join us on to learn more and gain access to a wealth of resources for essay writing and more. Let's dive in!

Examples of Essays on Respect

The Importance of Respect in Building Healthy Relationships

Respect is an essential ingredient for any healthy relationship to thrive. When two people treat each other with respect, they can build a strong and lasting bond that withstands the test of time. Respect is not just about being polite or courteous to one another, but it's also about acknowledging and appreciating each other's unique qualities and differences. In this article, we'll explore the importance of respect in building healthy relationships and how it can help you maintain a happy and fulfilling connection with your partner.

What is respect?

Respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. In the context of relationships, respect means treating your partner with dignity, recognizing their worth, and valuing their opinions and feelings. It involves listening to them, being considerate of their needs, and acknowledging their boundaries.

Why is respect important in relationships?

Respect is the foundation on which healthy relationships are built. Without respect, a relationship can quickly deteriorate into a toxic and unhealthy dynamic where one partner dominates the other or both partners constantly belittle each other. Respect is what allows two people to trust each other, communicate effectively, and build a strong emotional connection. Here are some reasons why respect is crucial in building healthy relationships:

It fosters trust and intimacy

When two people respect each other, they can trust each other to be honest and transparent. This trust allows them to open up and be vulnerable with each other, leading to a deeper emotional connection and intimacy. Trust and intimacy are essential for any healthy relationship to thrive, and respect is the foundation on which they are built.

It promotes effective communication

Respectful communication involves listening actively, being mindful of each other's feelings, and avoiding hurtful language or behaviors. When two people communicate respectfully, they can resolve conflicts in a constructive and healthy manner, leading to a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.

It builds a sense of safety and security

When two people respect each other, they feel safe and secure in each other's company. They know that they can rely on each other and that their partner will always have their back. This sense of safety and security is essential for building a healthy and long-lasting relationship.

It helps to maintain individuality

Respect is not just about acknowledging your partner's worth, but also about respecting their individuality and unique qualities. When two people respect each other, they can appreciate each other's differences and allow each other to grow and develop as individuals. This helps to maintain a healthy balance between dependence and independence in the relationship.

How to show respect in a relationship?

Showing respect in a relationship involves a combination of behaviors and attitudes. Here are some ways you can show respect to your partner:

Listen actively

One of the most important ways to show respect is to listen actively to your partner. This means paying attention to what they are saying, asking questions, and responding with empathy and understanding.

Be considerate of their feelings

Respect also means being considerate of your partner's feelings. Avoid saying or doing things that might hurt them or make them feel uncomfortable.

Acknowledge their achievements

Respect involves acknowledging and appreciating your partner's achievements and successes. Celebrate their accomplishments and encourage them to pursue their goals and dreams.

Respect their boundaries

Respect also means respecting your partner's boundaries. Avoid pressuring them to do things they are uncomfortable with and always seek their consent before engaging in any intimate activities.

Avoid criticizing or belittling them

Respectful communication also involves avoiding hurtful language or behaviors. Avoid criticizing or belittling your partner, and instead focus on expressing your concerns in a constructive and respectful manner.

Show appreciation and gratitude

Showing appreciation and gratitude is another important way to demonstrate respect in a relationship. Let your partner know that you value and appreciate them, and express your gratitude for the things they do for you.

Be honest and transparent

Honesty and transparency are crucial components of respectful communication. Be truthful with your partner, and avoid hiding things from them or being deceitful in any way.

Take responsibility for your actions

Respect also means taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging when you make mistakes. Apologize when you've done something wrong, and work together with your partner to find a solution.

How to handle disrespect in a relationship?

Disrespectful behavior can have a significant impact on a relationship and can quickly lead to conflict and tension. Here are some ways to handle disrespect in a relationship:

Communicate your concerns

The first step in addressing disrespect in a relationship is to communicate your concerns to your partner. Let them know how their behavior is making you feel, and work together to find a solution.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries is an important part of respecting yourself in a relationship. Let your partner know what you will and won't tolerate, and be prepared to enforce these boundaries if necessary.

Seek outside help

If you're struggling to handle disrespect in your relationship, consider seeking outside help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide you with the tools and support you need to navigate the situation.

Respect is an essential ingredient for building healthy and fulfilling relationships. When two people treat each other with respect, they can develop a strong emotional connection based on trust, intimacy, and mutual appreciation. By listening actively, being considerate of each other's feelings, and communicating respectfully, you can show your partner that you value and respect them. Remember that respect is a two-way street, and it's essential to treat your partner the way you would like to be treated.

Cultivating Respect: Strategies for Fostering a Culture of Civility

Respect is a fundamental aspect of human interactions. It is essential to creating a positive and productive workplace culture. Unfortunately, respect is often in short supply in many organizations, leading to negative outcomes such as high turnover rates, low employee engagement, and poor job satisfaction. In this article, we will explore strategies for cultivating respect in the workplace to foster a culture of civility.


The workplace is a complex environment that involves the interaction of various individuals with diverse backgrounds and personalities. This diversity often results in conflicts that can negatively impact the work environment. Therefore, fostering a culture of civility is critical to ensuring a healthy and productive workplace. Civility refers to respectful behavior and polite communication, even in situations where there is disagreement or conflict.

The Importance of Respect in the Workplace

Respect is vital to creating a positive and productive work environment. It promotes employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. Respectful interactions also encourage collaboration, creativity, and innovation. When employees feel respected, they are more likely to share ideas, provide feedback, and take risks.

Strategies for Fostering a Culture of Civility

Lead by Example: The behavior of leaders sets the tone for the entire organization. Leaders should model respectful behavior and communicate clear expectations for civility in the workplace.

Communication: Encourage open and honest communication by creating a safe and supportive environment. Ensure that all employees have an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas.

Education: Provide training on conflict resolution, effective communication, and cultural awareness. This will equip employees with the necessary skills to navigate difficult conversations and work collaboratively with diverse individuals.

Policies and Procedures: Establish clear policies and procedures for addressing conflicts and promoting respectful behavior. Ensure that all employees are aware of these policies and understand the consequences of violating them.

Recognition: Recognize and reward employees who demonstrate respectful behavior and contribute to a positive work environment. This will encourage others to follow suit and foster a culture of civility.

Challenges and Solutions

Cultivating respect and promoting civility in the workplace is not always easy. There are several challenges that organizations may face, including resistance to change, lack of resources, and differing perspectives. However, these challenges can be overcome by implementing the following solutions:

Address Resistance: Address resistance to change by communicating the benefits of cultivating respect and promoting civility. Explain how it will benefit the organization, employees, and customers.

Allocate Resources: Allocate the necessary resources to promote respectful behavior, such as training programs, policies and procedures, and recognition programs.

Understand Differences: Encourage employees to understand and respect cultural and individual differences. This will help to foster an environment of inclusivity and respect.

Cultivating respect and promoting civility in the workplace is essential to creating a positive and productive work environment. It requires leadership, communication, education, policies, and recognition. Organizations that prioritize respect and civility will benefit from increased employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. By implementing the strategies discussed in this article, organizations can create a culture of civility that fosters respect, collaboration, and innovation.

In conclusion, cultivating respect and promoting civility in the workplace is critical to creating a positive and productive work environment. It requires the commitment and effort of all employees, starting with leadership. By implementing the strategies discussed in this article, organizations can create a culture of civility that fosters respect, collaboration, and innovation. By doing so, they will benefit from increased employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall well-being, leading to greater success and growth.

Understanding Empathy: The Key to Building Respectful Connections

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is a powerful tool that helps us connect with people and build healthy relationships. In this article, we will explore the meaning of empathy, its importance in building respectful connections, and how to cultivate empathy in our daily lives.

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It involves putting yourself in someone else's shoes and seeing the world from their perspective. Empathy helps us connect with people and build healthy relationships by creating a sense of mutual understanding and respect.

The Different Types of Empathy

There are three different types of empathy: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassionate empathy.

Cognitive Empathy

Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand someone's thoughts and feelings intellectually. It involves seeing the world from their perspective and understanding their needs and concerns.

Emotional Empathy

Emotional empathy is the ability to share someone's feelings and emotions. It involves feeling what they feel and experiencing their emotions alongside them.

Compassionate Empathy

Compassionate empathy is the ability to feel someone's emotions and take action to help them. It involves understanding their needs and concerns and taking steps to address them.

How to Cultivate Empathy

Cultivating empathy requires practice and effort. Here are some strategies you can use to cultivate empathy in your daily life:

Active Listening

Active listening involves fully concentrating on what someone is saying and actively engaging with them. It involves asking questions, providing feedback, and demonstrating that you are fully present and engaged.

Putting Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes

Putting yourself in someone else's shoes involves imagining how they are feeling and seeing the world from their perspective. It involves suspending judgment and taking the time to understand their needs and concerns.

Practicing Self-Reflection

Practicing self-reflection involves taking the time to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings. It involves being honest with yourself about your biases and assumptions and actively working to challenge them.

Practicing Empathy Exercises

Practicing empathy exercises involves actively seeking out opportunities to practice empathy. These exercises may involve volunteering, practicing active listening, or engaging in role-playing activities.

Empathy is a crucial tool for building respectful connections with others. It allows us to understand and share the feelings of others, creating a sense of mutual understanding and respect. By practicing empathy in our daily lives, we can build stronger relationships, enhance our communication skills, and improve our overall well-being.

Respect and Communication: How Listening and Dialogue Can Build Bridges

Communication is the foundation of any relationship, be it personal or professional. However, communication isn't just about talking; it also involves listening actively and with respect. In this article, we will explore how respect and communication can build bridges and help create strong relationships.

Definition of communication

Importance of communication

Communication challenges

Building Bridges through Communication

Communication is a powerful tool that can be used to create and maintain bridges between people. By communicating effectively, we can connect with others on a deeper level and build trust and respect. Here are some ways to build bridges through communication:

Active listening is the key to effective communication. When we listen actively, we give the other person our undivided attention, and we try to understand their perspective without interrupting or judging them.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. When we empathize with others, we put ourselves in their shoes, and we try to see things from their perspective. This helps us to communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships.

Respect is essential in any relationship. When we respect others, we treat them with dignity and honor their views and opinions, even if we disagree with them. This creates a safe space for communication and encourages people to share their thoughts and feelings openly.

Open Communication

Open communication is critical for building bridges. When we communicate openly, we share our thoughts and feelings honestly and transparently, and we encourage others to do the same. This helps to build trust and creates a deeper connection between people.

Communication Challenges

Effective communication isn't always easy, and there are many challenges that can arise. Here are some of the most common communication challenges:

Language Barriers

Language barriers can make communication difficult, especially when there are cultural differences. It's essential to be patient and to try to understand the other person's perspective, even if there are language barriers.

Emotional Triggers

Emotions can often get in the way of effective communication. When we feel triggered, we may become defensive or angry, which can create a barrier to communication. 

Power Imbalances

Power imbalances can make communication difficult, especially in a professional setting. When one person has more power or authority than the other, it can be challenging to communicate effectively. 

Effective communication is critical for building bridges and creating strong relationships. By listening actively, empathizing, showing respect, and communicating openly, we can overcome communication challenges and build bridges that last. Remember to be patient, kind, and understanding, and always approach communication with an open mind and heart.

The Power of Reverence: How Respect Can Shape Our Lives

Respect is an essential aspect of our lives that plays a crucial role in shaping our personalities and building meaningful relationships. When we show respect to others, we create a positive environment that allows everyone to thrive. The power of reverence goes beyond basic etiquette; it influences our behavior, decisions, and outlook on life. In this article, we will explore the importance of respect and how it can shape our lives.

Understanding Respect

Respect is defined as a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. It is an attitude that acknowledges the worth of another person or thing. Respect is a fundamental aspect of human interaction that creates a positive environment for everyone. It is essential in building trust, maintaining healthy relationships, and promoting cooperation.

Respect in Personal Relationships

Respect is an essential ingredient in creating meaningful personal relationships. It is the foundation on which all relationships are built. When we show respect to our partners, friends, and family members, we create an environment of trust, empathy, and mutual understanding. Respect allows us to communicate effectively, express our opinions, and solve conflicts in a healthy manner. It is also the key to maintaining healthy boundaries and creating a safe space for everyone involved.

Respect in Professional Relationships

Respect is equally important in professional relationships. It is the key to building trust, fostering collaboration, and creating a positive work environment. When we show respect to our colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates, we promote teamwork, productivity, and job satisfaction. Respectful communication allows for the sharing of ideas, constructive feedback, and the creation of a supportive work culture.

The Benefits of Respect

The power of reverence has numerous benefits that can positively impact our lives. Respect promotes empathy, understanding, and cooperation, allowing us to build healthy relationships with others. It creates a positive environment that fosters personal and professional growth, leading to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. Showing respect also improves our self-esteem, allowing us to feel more confident and empowered.

The Consequences of Disrespect

On the other hand, disrespect can have severe consequences that negatively impact our lives. Disrespectful behavior can damage relationships, erode trust, and create a hostile work environment. It can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and even legal issues in extreme cases. Disrespectful behavior can also damage our self-esteem, leading to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

Cultivating Respect

Cultivating respect is an ongoing process that requires mindfulness and conscious effort. It involves acknowledging the worth of others, recognizing their contributions, and treating them with dignity and kindness. Cultivating respect also means recognizing our own worth and treating ourselves with kindness and compassion. When we cultivate respect, we create a positive environment that allows everyone to thrive.

In conclusion, the power of reverence is an essential aspect of our lives that can positively impact our personal and professional relationships. Respect allows us to build healthy relationships, promotes empathy and understanding, and fosters personal and professional growth. It is the key to creating a positive environment that allows everyone to thrive. Cultivating respect is an ongoing process that requires mindfulness and conscious effort, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, these essays have explored the multifaceted concept of respect, examining its core values and societal implications. We have seen how respect can foster healthy relationships, promote empathy and understanding, and facilitate productive communication. Through examples from literature, history, and contemporary events, we have gained insights into the power of reverence and the importance of cultivating a culture of civility.

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Respect has great importance in everyday life. As children we are taught (one hopes) to respect our parents and teachers, school rules and traffic laws, family and cultural traditions, other people’s feelings and rights, our country’s flag and leaders, the truth and people’s differing opinions. And we come to value respect for such things; when we’re older, we may shake our heads (or fists) at people who seem not to have learned to respect them. We develop great respect for people we consider exemplary and lose respect for those we discover to be clay-footed; we may also come to believe that, at some level, all people are worthy of respect. We may learn that jobs and relationships become unbearable if we receive no respect in them; in certain social milieus we may learn the price of disrespect if we violate the street law: “Diss me, and you die.” Calls to respect this or that are increasingly part of public life: environmentalists exhort us to respect nature, foes of abortion and capital punishment insist on respect for human life, members of racial and ethnic minorities and those discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs, or economic status demand respect both as social and moral equals and for their cultural differences. And it is widely acknowledged that public debates about such demands should take place under terms of mutual respect. We may learn both that our lives together go better when we respect the things that deserve to be respected and that we should respect some things independently of considerations of how our lives would go.

We may also learn that how our lives go depends every bit as much on whether we respect ourselves. The value of self-respect may be something we can take for granted, or we may discover how very important it is when our self-respect is threatened, or we lose it and have to work to regain it, or we have to struggle to develop or maintain it in a hostile environment. Some people find that finally being able to respect themselves is what matters most about finally standing on their own two feet, kicking a disgusting habit, or defending something they value; others, sadly, discover that life is no longer worth living if self-respect is irretrievably lost. It is part of everyday wisdom that respect and self-respect are deeply connected, that it is difficult both to respect others if we don’t respect ourselves and to respect ourselves if others don’t respect us. It is increasingly part of political wisdom both that unjust social institutions can devastatingly damage self-respect and that robust and resilient self-respect can be a potent force in struggles against injustice.

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, and a host of 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. This focus owes much to the 18 th century German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who argued that all and only persons 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, 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 beings and the natural environment.

Despite the widespread acknowledgment of the importance of respect and self-respect in moral and political life and theory, there is no settled agreement in either everyday thinking or philosophical discussion about such issues as how to understand the concepts, what the appropriate objects of respect are, what is involved in respecting various objects, and what the scope is of any moral requirements regarding respect and self-respect. This entry will survey these and related issues.

1.1 Elements of respect

1.2 kinds of respect, 2.1 some important issues, 2.2 kant’s account of respect for persons, 2.3 further issues, developments, and applications, 3. respect for nature and nonhuman beings, 4.1 the concept of self-respect, 4.2 treatment of self-respect in moral and political philosophy, 5. conclusion, philosophical works chiefly on respect and related concepts, philosophical works chiefly on self-respect and related concepts, other internet resources, related entries, 1. the concept of respect.

Philosophers have approached the concept of respect with a variety of questions. (1) One set concerns the nature of respect, including (a) What sort of thing is respect? Philosophers have variously identified it as a mode of behavior, a form of treatment, a kind of valuing, a type of attention, a motive, an attitude, a feeling, a tribute, a principle, a duty, an entitlement, a moral virtue, an epistemic virtue: are any of these categories more central than others? (b) Are there different kinds of respect? If so, is any more basic than others? (c) Are there different levels or degrees of respect? (d) What are the distinctive elements of respect, or a specific kind of respect? What beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and motives does (a specific kind of) respect involve, and what ways of acting and forbearing to act express or constitute or are regulated by it? (e) To what other attitudes, actions, valuings, duties, etc., is respect (or a specific kind) similar, and with what does it contrast? In particular, how is respect similar to, different from, or connected with esteem, honor, love, awe, reverence, recognition, toleration, dignity, contempt, indifference, discounting, denigration, and so on? (2) A second set of questions concerns objects of respect, including (a)What sorts of things can be reasonably be said to warrant respect? (b) What are the bases or grounds for respect, i.e., the features of or facts about objects in virtue of which it is reasonable and perhaps obligatory to respect them? (c) Must every appropriate object always be respected? Can respect be forfeited, can lost respect be regained? (3) A third set of questions focuses on moral dimensions of respect, including (a) Are there moral requirements to respect certain types of objects, and, if so, what are the scope and grounds of such requirements? (b) Why is respect morally important? What, if anything, does it add to morality over and above the conduct, attitudes, and character traits required or encouraged by various moral principles or virtues? (c) What does respect entail morally for how we should treat one another in everyday interactions, for issues in specific contexts such as health care and the workplace, and for fraught issues such as abortion, racial and gender justice, and global inequality?

It is widely acknowledged that there are different forms or kinds of respect. This complicates the answering of these questions, since answers concerning one form or kind of respect can diverge significantly from those about another. Much philosophical work has gone into explicating differences and links among the various kinds.

One general distinction concerns respect simply as behavior and respect as an attitude or feeling that may or may not be expressed in or signified by behavior. When we speak of drivers respecting the speed limit, hostile forces respecting a cease fire agreement, or the Covid-19 virus not respecting national borders, we can be referring simply to behavior which avoids violation of or interference with some boundary, limit, or rule, without any reference to attitudes, feelings, intentions, or dispositions, and even, as in the case of viruses, without imputing agency (Bird 2004). In such cases the behavior is regarded as constitutive of respecting. Where respect is conceived of as a duty or an entitlement, a certain kind of behavior or treatment may be all that is owed. Similarly, respect as a tribute could be just a certain mode of behavior, such as bowing or standing in silence. In other cases, however, we take respect to be or to express or signify an attitude or feeling, as when we speak of having respect for someone or of certain behaviors as showing respect or disrespect. Here, actions and modes of treatment count as respect insofar as they either manifest an attitude of respect or are of the sort through which the attitude is characteristically expressed; a principle of respect is one that necessarily must be adopted by someone with the attitude of respect or that prescribes the attitude or actions that express it (Frankena 1986; Downie and Telfer 1969); a moral virtue of respect involves having the attitude as a settled aspect of one’s way of being toward appropriate objects. Most discussions of respect for persons take attitude to be central. In what follows, I will focus chiefly on respect as attitude. There are, again, several different attitudes to which the term “respect” refers. Before looking at differences, however, it is useful first to note some elements common among varieties.

An attitude of respect is, most generally, a relation between a subject and an object in which the subject responds to the object from a certain perspective in some appropriate way. Respect necessarily has an object: respect is always directed toward, paid to, felt about, shown for some object. While a very wide variety of things can be appropriate objects of one kind of respect or another, the subject of respect (the respecter) is typically a person, that is, a conscious rational being capable of recognizing objects, intentionally responding to them, having and expressing values with regard to them, and being accountable for disrespecting or failing to respect them. Respect and disrespect can also be expressed or instantiated by or through things that are not persons, such as guidelines, rules, laws, and principles, systems, and institutional organizations and operations. So, we can say that laws that prohibit torture express respect for persons while the institution of slavery is profoundly disrespectful of human beings.

Ordinary discourse about respect as a responsive relation identifies several key elements, including attention, deference, judgment, valuing, and behavior. First, as its derivation from the Latin respicere , (to look back at, look again) suggests, respect is a form of regard: a mode of attention to and acknowledgment of an object as something to be taken seriously. Respecting something contrasts with being oblivious or indifferent to it, ignoring or quickly dismissing it, neglecting or disregarding it, or carelessly or intentionally misidentifying it. Respect is also perspectival: we can respect something from a moral perspective, or from prudential, evaluative, social, or institutional perspectives. From different perspectives, we might attend to different aspects of the object in respecting it or respect it in different ways. For example, one might regard another human individual as a rights-bearer, a judge, a superlative singer, a trustworthy person, or a threat to one’s security, and the respect one accords her in each case will be different. It is in virtue of this aspect of careful attention that respect is sometimes thought of as an epistemic virtue.

As responsive, respect is as much object-based as subject-generated; certain objects call for, claim, elicit, deserve, are owed respect. We respect something not because we want to but because we recognize that we have to respect it (Wood 1999); respect involves “a deontic experience”—the experience that one must pay attention and respond appropriately (Birch 1993). It thus is motivational: it is the recognition of something “as directly determining our will without reference to what is wanted by our inclinations” (Rawls 2000, 153). In this way respect differs from, for example, liking and fearing, which have their sources in the subject’s interests or desires. When we respect something, we heed its call, accord it its due, acknowledge its claim. Thus, respect involves deference, in the most basic sense of yielding to the object’s demands.

The idea that the object “drives” respect, as it were, is involved in the view that respect is an unmediated emotional response (Buss 1999b). But respect is typically treated as also an expression of the agency of the respecter: respect is deliberate, a matter of directed rather than grabbed attention, of reflective consideration and judgment. On this view, respect is reason-governed: we cannot respect a particular object for just any old reason or no reason at all. Rather, we respect something for the reason that it has, in our judgment, some respect-warranting characteristic, that makes it the kind of object that calls for that kind of response (Cranor 1975; Pettit 2021). And these reasons are both objective, in the sense that their weight or stringency does not depend on the respecter’s interests, goals, or desires, and categorical, in the sense that acting against these reasons, other things equal, is wrong (Raz 2001). Respect is thus both subjective and objective. It is subjective in that the subject’s response is constructed from her understanding of the object and its characteristics and her judgments about the legitimacy of its call and how fittingly to address the call. The objectivity of respect means that an individual’s respect for an object can be inappropriate or unwarranted, for the object may not have the features she takes it to have, or the features she takes to be respect-warranting might not be, or her idea of how properly to treat the object might be mistaken. Moreover, the logic of respect is the logic of objectivity and universality, in several ways. In respecting an object, we respond to it as something whose significance is independent of us, not determined by our feelings or interests. Our reasons for respecting something are, logically, reasons for other people to respect it (or at least to endorse our respect for it from a common point of view). Respect is thus, unlike erotic or filial love, an impersonal response to the object. And if F is a respect-warranting feature of object O, then respecting O on account of F commits us, other things equal, to respecting other things with feature F.

There are many different kinds of objects that can reasonably be respected and many different reasons why they warrant respect. Thus, warranted responses can take different forms. Some things are dangerous or powerful; respecting them can involve fear, awe, self-protection, or submission. Other things have authority over us and the respect they are due includes acknowledgment of their authority and perhaps obedience to their authoritative commands. Other forms of respect are modes of valuing, appreciating the object as having worth or importance that is independent of, perhaps even at variance with, our desires or commitments. Thus, we can respect things we don’t like or agree with, such as our enemies or someone else’s opinion. Valuing respect is kin to esteem, admiration, veneration, reverence, and honor, while regarding something as utterly worthless or insignificant or disdaining or having contempt for it is incompatible with respecting it. Respect also aims to value its object appropriately, so it contrasts with degradation and discounting. The kinds of valuing that respect involves also contrast with other forms of valuing such as promoting or using (Anderson 1993, Pettit 1989). Indeed, regarding a person merely as useful (treating her as just a sexual object, an ATM machine, a research subject) is commonly identified as a central form of disrespect for persons, and many people decry the killing of endangered wild animals for their tusks or hides as disrespectful of nature.

Finally, attitudes of respect typically have a behavioral component. In respecting an object, we often consider it to be making legitimate claims on our conduct as well as our thoughts and feelings and so we are disposed to behave appropriately. Appropriate behavior includes refraining from certain treatment of the object or acting only in particular ways in connection with it, ways that are regarded as fitting, deserved by, or owed to the object. And there are very many ways to respect things: keeping our distance from them, helping them, praising or emulating them, obeying or abiding by them, not violating or interfering with them, destroying them only in some ways, protecting or being careful with them, talking about them in ways that reflect their worth or status, mourning them, nurturing them. One can behave in respectful ways, however, without having respect for the object, as when a teen who disdains adults behaves respectfully toward her friend’s parents in a scheme to get the car, manipulating rather than respecting them. To be a form or expression of respect, behavior has to be motivated by one’s acknowledgment of the object as rightly calling for that behavior. On the other hand, certain kinds of feelings would not count as respect if they did not find expression in behavior or involved no dispositions to behave in appropriate ways, and if they did not spring from perceptions or judgments that the object is worthy of or calls for such behavior.

The attitudes of respect, then, have cognitive dimensions (beliefs, acknowledgments, judgments, commitments), affective dimensions (emotions, feelings, ways of experiencing things), and conative dimensions (motivations, dispositions to act and forbear from acting); some forms also have valuational dimensions. One last dimension is normative: the attitudes and actions of respect are governed by norms that set standards of success or failure in responding to respect-worthy-objects. Some norms are moral, grounded in moral principles or morally important characteristics of respect-worthy objects and both endorsable by and authoritative for all moral agents. Other norms are social, arising from dimensions of social life, grounded in socially significant characteristics of objectives, and authoritative or applicable (only) for participants in that form of sociality.

That it is the nature of the object that determines its respect-worthiness, and that there are different kinds of objects calling for correspondingly different responses, have led many philosophers to argue that there are different kinds of respect. In what follows, three sets of distinctions will be discussed.

Speculating on the historical development of the idea that all persons as such deserve respect, and using terms found in Kant’s writings on Achtung (the German word usually translated as “respect”), Feinberg (1975) identifies three concepts for which “respect” has been the name. (1) Respekt , is the “uneasy and watchful attitude that has ‘the element of fear’ in it” (1975, 1). Its objects are dangerous or powerful things. It is respekt that woodworkers are encouraged to have for power tools, a new sailor might be admonished to have for the sea, and a child might have for an abusive parent. Respekt contrasts with contemptuous disregard; it is shown in conduct that is cautious, self-protective, other-placating. (2) The second concept, observantia , is the moralized analogue of respekt. It involves regarding the object as making a rightful claim on our conduct, as deserving moral consideration in its own right, independently of considerations of personal well-being. It is observantia , Feinberg maintains, that historically was extended first to classes of non-dangerous but otherwise worthy people and then to all persons as such, regardless of merit or ability. Observantia encompasses both the respect said to be owed to all humans equally and the forms of polite respect and deference that acknowledge different social positions. On Kant’s account, observantia is the kind of respect we have an inviolable moral duty to give every person, both by acknowledging their claim to moral equality with us and by never treating persons as if they have little or no worth compared with ourselves (Kant 1797, 6:499). (3) Reverentia , the third concept, is the special feeling of profound awe and respect we involuntarily experience in the presence of something extraordinary or sublime, a feeling that both humbles and uplifts us. On Kant’s account, the moral law and people who exemplify it in morally worthy actions elicit reverentia from us, for we experience the law or its exemplification as “something that always trumps our inclinations in determining our wills” (Feinberg 1975, 2). Feinberg sees different forms of power as underlying the three kinds of respect; in each case, respect is the acknowledgment of the power of something other than ourselves to demand, command, or make claims on our attention, consideration, and deference. (See further discussion of Kant’s account in section 2.2.)

Hudson (1980) draws a four-fold distinction among kinds of respect, according to the bases in the objects. Consider the following examples: (a) respecting a colleague highly as a scholar and having a lot of respect for someone with “guts”; (b) a mountain climber’s respect for the elements and a tennis player’s respect for her opponent’s strong backhand; (c) respecting the terms of an agreement and respecting a person’s rights; and (d) showing respect for a judge by rising when she enters the courtroom and respecting a worn-out flag by burning it rather than tossing it in the trash. The respect in (a), evaluative respect , is similar to other favorable attitudes such as esteem and admiration; it is earned or deserved (or not) depending on whether and to the degree that the object is judged to meet certain standards. Obstacle respect , in (b), is a matter of regarding the object as something that, if not taken proper account of in one’s decisions about how to act, could prevent one from achieving one’s ends. The objects of (c) directive respect are directives: things such as requests, rules, advice, laws, or rights claims that may be taken as guides to action. One respects a directive when one’s actions intentionally comply with it. The objects of (d) institutional respect are social institutions or practices, positions or roles in an institution or practice, and persons or things that occupy positions in or represent the institution. Institutional respect is constituted by behavior that conforms to rules that prescribe certain conduct as respectful. These four forms of respect differ in several ways. Each identifies a quite different kind of feature of objects as the basis of respect. Each is expressed in action in quite different ways, although evaluative respect need not be expressed at all. Evaluative respect centrally involves having a favorable attitude toward the object, while the other forms do not. Directive respect does not admit of degrees (one either obeys the rule or doesn’t), but the others do (we can have more evaluative respect for one person than another). Hudson uses this distinction to argue that respect for persons is not a unique kind of respect but should be conceived rather as involving some combination or other of these four.

To Hudson’s four-fold classification, Dillon (1992a) adds a fifth form, care respect , which draws on feminist ethics of care. Care respect, which is exemplified in an environmentalist’s deep respect for nature, involves both regarding the object as having profound and perhaps unique value and so cherishing it, and perceiving it as fragile or calling for special care and so acting or forbearing to act out of felt benevolent concern for it.

Darwall (1977) distinguishes two kinds of respect: recognition respect and appraisal respect . Recognition respect is the disposition to give appropriate weight or consideration in one’s practical deliberations to some fact about the object and to regulate one’s conduct by constraints derived from that fact. (Frankena 1986 and Cranor 1982, 1983 refer to this as “consideration respect.”) A wide variety of objects can be objects of recognition respect, including laws, dangerous things, someone’s feelings, social institutions, nature, the selves individuals present in different contexts, people occupying certain social roles or positions, and persons as such. Appraisal respect, by contrast, is an attitude of positive appraisal, the “thinking highly of” kind of respect that we might have a great deal of for some individuals, little of for others, or lose for those whose clay feet or dirty laundry becomes apparent. Appraisal respect involves a grading assessment of a person in light of some qualitative standards that they can meet or not to greater and lesser degrees. It differs from the more widely grounded esteem and admiration in that it is concerned specifically with the moral quality of people’s character or conduct, or with other characteristics that are relevant to their moral quality as agents.

The recognition/appraisal distinction has been quite influential and is widely regarded as the fundamental distinction. Indeed, evaluative respect is similar to appraisal respect, while respekt , obstacle respect, observantia , directive respect, institutional respect, and care respect could be analyzed as forms of recognition respect. Some philosophers, however, have found the recognition/appraisal distinction to be inadequate, inasmuch as it seems to have no room for reverentia , especially in the form of the felt experience of the sublimity of the moral law and of persons as such (e.g., Buss 1999b), and it seems to obscure the variety of valuings that different modes of respect can involve. Much philosophical work has involved refining the recognition/appraisal distinction.

In the rest of this article, I will discuss respect and self-respect using Darwall’s term “recognition respect,” Hudson’s term “evaluative respect,” and Feinberg’s “reverential respect” (the last for the valuing feeling that is involuntary motivational without being deliberative), specifying the valuing dimensions as necessary.

In everyday discourse, respect most commonly refers to one of two attitudes or modes of conduct. The first is the kind of respect individuals show (or should show) others because of the latter’s social role or position. For example, children should respect their parents by listening and courtroom spectators should respect the judge. by rising upon her entrance. This is a social form of recognition respect that is, typically, structured by social institutions whose norms are authoritative for participants in the institutions and that need not involve any positive valuing of the object. “Respect” is also commonly used, second, in a valuing sense, to mean thinking highly of someone: having a lot of respect for someone who has overcome adversity or losing all respect for a betrayer. This is evaluative respect. However, philosophical attention to respect has tended to focus on recognition respect that acknowledges or values the object from a moral point of view, which we can call “moral recognition respect.” These discussions tend to relate such respect to the concepts of moral standing or moral worth. Moral standing, or moral considerability, is the idea that certain things matter morally in their own right and so are appropriate objects of direct fundamental moral consideration or concern (Birch 1993; P. Taylor 1986). Alternatively, it is argued that certain things have a distinctive kind of intrinsic moral worth, often called “dignity,” in virtue of which evoke reverential respect or ought to be accorded some valuing form of moral recognition respect. In modern philosophical discussions, humans are universally regarded as the paradigm objects of moral respect. Although some theorists argue that nature (or, all living beings, species, ecosystems) or societies (or, cultures, traditions) also warrant the moral consideration and valuing of moral recognition respect, most philosophical discussion of respect has focused on moral recognition respect for persons.

2. Respect for Persons

People can be the objects or recipients of different forms of respect. We can (directive) respect a person’s legal rights, show (institutional) respect for the president by calling her “Ms. President,” have a healthy (obstacle) respect ( respekt ) for an easily angered person, (care) respect someone by cherishing her in her concrete particularity, (evaluatively) respect an individual for her commitment to a worthy project, and accord one person the same basic moral respect we think any person deserves. Thus, the idea of respect for persons is ambiguous. Because both institutional respect and evaluative respect can be for persons in roles or position, the phrase “respecting someone as an R” might mean either having high regard for a person’s excellent performance in the role or behaving in ways that express due consideration or deference to an individual qua holder of that position. Similarly, the phrase “respecting someone as a person” might refer to appraising her as overall a morally good person, or acknowledging her standing as an equal in the moral community, or attending to her as the particular person she is as opposed to treating her like any other human being. In the literature of moral and political philosophy, the notion of respect for persons commonly means a kind of respect that all people are owed morally just because they are persons, regardless of social position, individual characteristics or achievements, or moral merit.

In times past, it was taken for granted that respect for human beings was a hierarchical notion; some humans, it was thought, have a higher moral standing and a greater moral worth than others and so are morally entitled to greater recognition respect. (Not just in times past – this is still the core of racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry.) However, the modern understanding of respect for persons rests on the idea that all persons as such have a distinctive moral status in virtue of which we have unconditional obligations to regard and treat them in ways that are constrained by certain inviolable limits. This is sometimes expressed in terms of rights: all persons, it is said, have a fundamental moral right to respect simply because they are persons. Connected with this is the idea that all persons are fundamentally equal, despite the very many things that distinguish one individual from another. All persons, that is, have the moral standing of equality in the moral community and are equally worthy of and owed respect. Respect acknowledges the moral standing of equal persons as such and is also the key mode of valuing persons as persons.

But which kind of respect are all persons owed? It is obvious that we could not owe every individual evaluative respect, let alone equal evaluative respect, since not everyone acts morally correctly or has an equally morally good character. Moreover, since reverential respect is an involuntary emotional response to something that is “awesome,” but we can’t have a moral obligation to experience an emotion, reverential respect can’t be the kind we owe all persons. So, if it is true that all persons are owed or have a moral right to respect just as persons, then the concept of respect for person has to be analyzed as some form or combination of forms of moral recognition respect. One analysis takes moral recognition respect for a person as a person to involve recognizing that this being is a person, appreciating that persons as such have a distinctive moral standing and worth, understanding this standing and worth as the source of moral constraints on one’s attitudes, desires, and conduct, and viewing, valuing, and treating this person only in ways that are appropriate to and due persons (Dillon 1997, 2010).

It is controversial, however, whether we do indeed have a moral obligation to respect all persons regardless of merit, and if so, why. There are disagreements, for example, about the scope of the claim, the grounds of respect, and the justification for the obligation. There is also a divergence of views about the kinds of treatment that are respectful of persons.

One source of controversy concerns the scope of the concept of a person. Although in everyday discourse the word “person” is synonymous with “human being,” some philosophical discussions treat it as a technical term whose range of application might not be coextensive with the class of human beings (just as, for legal purposes, business corporations are regarded as persons). This is because some of the reasons that have been given for respecting persons entail both that some non-human things warrant the same respect on the very same grounds as humans and that not all humans do. Consequently, one question an account of respect for persons has to address is: Who or what are persons that are owed respect? Different answers have been offered, including all human beings; all and only those humans who are themselves capable of respecting persons; all beings capable of rational activity, or of sympathy and empathy, or of valuing, whether human or not; all beings capable of functioning as moral agents, whether human or not; all beings capable of participating in certain kinds of social relations, whether human or not. The second, third, and fourth answers would seem to exclude deceased humans and humans who lack sufficient mental capacity, such as the profoundly mentally disabled, the severely mentally ill and senile, those in persistent vegetative states, the pre-born, and perhaps very young children. The third, fourth, and fifth answers might include humans with diminished capacities, artificial beings (androids, sophisticated robots), spiritual beings (gods, angels), extraterrestrial beings, and certain animals (apes, dolphins).

In trying to clarify who or what we are obligated to respect, we are naturally led to a question about the ground or basis of respect: What is it about persons that makes them matter morally in such a way as to make them worthy of respect? One common way of answer this question is to look for some morally valuable natural qualities or capacities that are common to all beings that are noncontroversially owed respect (for example, all normal adult humans). Even regarding humans, there is a question of scope: Are all humans owed respect? If respect is something to which all human beings have an equal claim, then, it has been argued, the basis has to be something that all humans possess equally or in virtue of which humans are naturally equal, or a threshold quality that all humans possess, with variations above the threshold ignored. Some philosophers have argued that certain capacities fit the bill; others argue that there is no quality actually possessed by all humans that could be a plausible ground for a moral obligation of equal respect. Some draw from this the conclusion that respect is owed not to all but only to some human beings, for example, only morally good persons (Dean 2014). Another view is that the search for valuable qualities possessed by all humans that could ground universally owed moral recognition respect gets things backwards: rather than being grounded in some fact about humans, respect confers moral standing and worth on them (Sensen 2017; Bird forthcoming). But the last view still leaves the questions: why should this morally powerful standing and worth be conferred on humans? And is it conferred on all humans? Yet another question of scope is: Must persons always be respected? One view is that individuals forfeit their claim to respect by, for example, committing heinous crimes of disrespect against other persons, such as murder in the course of terrorism or genocide. Another view is that there are no circumstances under which it is morally justifiable to not respect a person, and that even torturers and child-rapists, though they may deserve the most severe condemnation and punishment and may have forfeited their rights to freedom and perhaps to life, still remain persons to whom we have obligations of respect, since the grounds of respect are independent of moral merit or demerit (Hill 2000b).

There is a further question of justification to be addressed, for it is one thing to say that persons have a certain valuable quality, but quite another thing to say that there is a moral obligation to respect persons (Hill 1997). So, we must ask: What reasons do we have for believing that the fact that persons possess quality X entails that we are morally obligated to respect persons by, for example, treating them in certain ways? Another way of asking a justification question seeks not a normative connection between qualities of persons and moral obligation, but an explanation for our belief that humans (and perhaps other beings) are owed respect, for example: What in our experience of other humans or in our evolutionary history explains the development and power of this belief? On some accounts, our actual felt experiences of reverential respect play a significant role (Buss 1999b). In other accounts, what justifies accepting our experience of respect for humans (or other beings) as grounds for an obligation is its coherence with our other moral beliefs (Hill 2000b; Margalit 1996; Gibbard 1990).

Other questions concern what respecting persons requires of us. Some philosophers argue that the obligation to respect person functions as a negative constraint: respect involves refraining from regarding or treating persons in certain ways. For example, we ought not to treat them as if they were worthless or had value only insofar as we find them useful or interesting, or as if they were mere objects or specimens, or as if they were vermin or dirt; we ought not to violate their basic moral rights, or interfere with their efforts to make their own decisions and govern their own conduct, or humiliate them, or treat them in ways that flout their nature and worth as persons. Other theorists maintain that we also have positive duties of respect: we ought, for example, to try to see each of them and the world from their own points of view, or help them to promote their morally acceptable ends, or protect them from their own self-harming decisions. And some philosophers note that it may be more respectful to judge someone’s actions or character negatively or to punish someone for wrongdoing than to treat them as if they were not responsible for what they did, although requirements of respect would impose limits on how such judgments may be expressed and how persons may be punished. Another question concerns equality of respect. While most theorists agree that moral recognition respect is owed equally to all persons and that it requires treating persons as equals (as all having the same basic moral worth and status), there is disagreement about whether respect requires that persons be treated equally (whatever is done or not done for or to one person must be done or not done for or to everyone). One view is that equal treatment would fail to respect important differences between individuals (Frankfurt 1999). Perhaps, however, as regards respect as a negative constraint, it is appropriate to treat all persons the same: no one should be treated like worthless garbage (just as no U.S. citizen should be compelled to incriminate themselves), while as regards respect as a positive duty, it may be more respectful of each person to treat individuals with different needs, aims, and circumstances differently (as a loving parent might allow her older children but not the younger ones to have social media accounts).

The most influential account of respect for persons is found in the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1785, 1788, 1793, 1797). Indeed, most contemporary discussions of respect for persons explicitly claim to rely on, develop, or challenge some aspect of Kant’s ethics. Central to Kant’s ethical theory is the claim that all persons, regardless of personal qualities or achievements, social position, or moral track-record, are owed respect just because they are persons, that is, beings with rational and autonomous wills. To be a person is to have a status and worth unlike that of any other kind of being: it is to be an end in itself with dignity. And the only appropriate response to such a being is respect. Moreover, respect for persons is not only appropriate but also unconditionally required: persons must always be respected. Because we are all too often inclined not to respect each other, one formulation of the Categorical Imperative, which is the supreme principle of morality, commands that our actions express due respect for persons: “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end” ( Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten ( Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals) (1785, 4:429). Although commentators disagree about how precisely to understand this imperative, one common view is that it defines our fundamental moral obligation as respect all persons, including ourselves, and thus defines morally right actions as those that express respect for persons as ends in themselves and morally wrong actions as those that express disrespect or contempt for persons (Wood 1999). (On other readings, respect is one of our fundamental duties, but there are others, such as love, justice, and moral self-improvement.) In addition to this general commandment, Kant argues that there are also more specific duties of respect for other persons and self-respect, to which we’ll return. For now, we must address the question, What is it to be an end in itself and to possess dignity?

An end, for Kant, is anything for the sake of which we act. Kant identifies two kinds of ends. The first are subjective ends, which are things we want, which we pursue or promote through means we think will help us to get or advance them. The value of subjective ends is conditional on or relative to the desire or interests of the individual who values them. The other kind of end is objective. These are ends in themselves, ends whose value is not dependent on any interests or desires but is absolute and unconditional, grounded solely in what they are. Kant maintains that all and only rational beings are ends in themselves. The technical term “persons” delineates the category of beings whose rational nature “already marks them out as ends in themselves…and an object of respect” ( Groundwork 4: 428).

To act for the sake of persons as ends in themselves, to respect them, is not to pursue or promote them, but to value them as the unconditionally valuable beings they are. It is also to acknowledge that there are constraints on our treatment of persons, for to be an end in itself is also to be a limit--just as the end of the road puts a limit on our travels, so an end in itself puts an absolute limit on the subjective ends we may set, the means we may use to pursue them, and, very importantly, on how we may treat ends in themselves. Such beings must never be used as if they were merely means, as if they were nothing more than tools that we may use however we want to advance our ends. Note, however, that it is not wrong to treat persons as means to our ends; indeed, we could not get along in life if we could not make use of the talents, abilities, service, and labor of other people. What we must never do is treat persons as mere means to our ends, to treat them as if the only value they have is what derives from their usefulness to us. Rather, we must always treat them “as the same time as an end.”

Kant holds that persons, as ends in themselves, have dignity ( Die Metaphysik der Sitten ( The Metaphysics of Morals ) (1797), 6: 435). But what is dignity? Until the last century or so, “dignity” (from the Latin dignitas , worthiness) referred to a high social status associated with the aristocracy, offices of power, and high church positions. Dignity thus distinguished socially important people from the hoi polloi , who had no dignity (Debes 2017). Kant’s view that every person has dignity thus marks a revolution in valuation (but see Dean 2014 and Hay 2012 for the view that only morally good people have dignity). Commentators disagree about how to understand what Kant means by dignity (cf. Sensen 2017, 2011; Cureton 2013; Darwall 2008). But the most common interpretation is that dignity is a distinctive kind objective worth that is absolute (not conditional on anyone’s needs, desires, or interests, and a value that everyone has an overriding reason to acknowledge); intrinsic or inherent (not bestowed or earned and not subject to being lost or forfeited); incomparable and the highest form of worth (a being with dignity cannot rationally be exchanged for or replaced by any other valued object, and is infinitely valuable, we might say, rather than worth $5 or $5 million).

In arguing for respect for the dignity of persons, Kant explicitly rejects two other conceptions of human value: the aristocratic idea of honor that individuals differentially deserve according to their social rank, individual accomplishments, or moral virtue (on the aristocratic dimensions of honor, see Darwall 2013; Berger 1983), and the view, baldly expressed by Hobbes, that:

… the value or worth of a man is, as of all other things, his price—that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power—and therefore is not absolute but a thing dependent on the need and judgment of another. (Hobbes 1651, 79)

In The Metaphysics of Morals , Kant agrees with Hobbes that if we think of humans as merely one kind of animal among others “in the system of nature,” we can ascribe a price to them, an extrinsic value that depends on their usefulness. But, he argues,

a human being regarded as a person, that is, as the subject of morally practical reason, is exalted above all price…as an end in himself he possesses a dignity by which he exacts respect for himself from all other beings in the world. ( MM , 6: 434–435)

Against the aristocratic view Kant argues that although individuals as members of some social community or other may have or lack meritorious accomplishment or status or may deserve honor or evaluative respect to different degrees or not at all, and some people deserve social recognition respect based on their socially significant features or positions, all persons as members of the moral community, i.e., the community of all and only ends in themselves, are owed the same moral recognition respect, for the dignity that they possesses as rational is unconditional and independent of all distinguishing facts about or features of them.

As the Categorical Imperative indicates, in virtue of the humanity in them that persons are, and so ought to be treated as, ends in themselves. Commentators generally identify humanity (that which makes us distinctively human beings and sets us apart from all other animal species) with two closely related aspects of rationality: the capacity to set ends and the capacity to be autonomous, both of which are capacities to be a moral agent (for example, Wood 1999; Hill 1997; Korsgaard 1996). The capacity to set ends, which is the power of rational choice, is the capacity to value things through rational judgment: to determine, under the influence of reason independently of antecedent instincts or desires, that something is valuable or important, that it is worth seeking or valuing. It is also, thereby, the capacity to value ends in themselves, and so it includes the capacity for respect (Velleman 1999). The capacity to be autonomous is the capacity to be self-legislating and self-governing, that is, (a) the capacity to legislate moral laws that are valid for all rational beings through one’s rational willing by recognizing, using reason alone, what counts as a moral obligation, and (b) the capacity then to freely resolve to act in accordance with moral laws because they are self-imposed by one’s own reason and not because one is compelled to act by any forces external to one’s reason and will, including one’s own desires and inclinations. The capacity to be autonomous is thus also the capacity to freely direct, shape, and determine the meaning of one’s own life, and it is the condition for moral responsibility. It is then, not as members of the biological species homo sapiens that human beings have dignity and so are owed moral recognition respect, but as rational beings who are capable of moral agency.

There are several important consequences of the Kantian view of the scope of moral recognition respect for persons as persons. First, while all normally functioning human beings possess the rational capacities that ground recognition respect, there can be humans in whom these capacities are altogether absent and who therefore, on this view, are not persons and are not owed respect. Second, these capacities could, in principle, be possessed by beings who are not biologically human, and such beings would also be persons with dignity whom we are morally obligated to respect. Third, because dignity does not depend on how well or badly the capacities for moral agency are exercised, on whether a person acts morally or has a morally good character or not, dignity is not a matter of degree and cannot be diminished or lost through vice or morally bad action or increased through virtue or morally correct action. Thus, the morally worst person has the same dignity as the morally best, although the former, we might say, fail to live up to their dignity. Likewise, moral recognition respect is not something individuals have to earn or might fail to earn, so even the morally worst individuals must still be regarded as ends in themselves and treated with respect. Of course, wrongdoing may call for punishment and may be grounds for forfeiting certain rights, but it is not grounds for losing dignity, for being regarded as worthless scum, or denied all respect (Hill 2000b). What grounds dignity is something that all persons have in common, not something that distinguishes one individual from another. Thus, each person is to be respected as an equal among equals, without consideration of individual achievements or failures, social rank, moral merit or demerit. However, the equality of all rational beings does not entail that persons cannot also be differentially evaluated and valued in other ways for their particular qualities, accomplishments, merit, or usefulness, although such valuing and treatment must always be constrained by the moral requirement to accord recognition respect to persons as ends in themselves.

In The Metaphysics of Morals , Kant develops the implications of this view of persons as ends in themselves. His doctrine of justice holds that the fundamental freedom and equality of persons is the basis of the legitimate state, that freedom of choice must be respected and promoted, that persons are bearers of fundamental rights and that the moral status of persons imposes limits on permissible legal punishment. In his doctrine of virtue, Kant discusses specific moral duties of recognition respect for other persons, as well as duties of recognition self-respect, to which we’ll return below. Here, Kant explicitly invokes the notion of respect as observantia . We have no moral duty to feel respect for others; rather, the respect we owe others is “to be understood as the maxim of limiting our self-esteem by the dignity of humanity in another person, and so as respect in the practical sense” ( MM , 6:449). This duty of recognition respect owed to others requires two things: first, that we adopt as a regulating policy a commitment to control our own desire to think well of ourselves (this desire being the main cause of disrespect), and, second, that we refrain from treating others in the following ways: treating them merely as means (valuing them as less than ends in themselves), showing contempt for them (denying that they have any worth), treating them arrogantly (demanding that they value us more highly than they value themselves), making them look like worthless beings by defaming them by publicly exposing their faults, and ridiculing or mocking them.

Subsequent work in a Kantian vein on the duty of respect for others has expanded the list of ways that we are morally required by respect to treat persons. In particular, although Kant says that the duties of recognition respect are strictly negative, consisting in not engaging in certain conduct or having certain attitudes, many philosophers have argued that respecting others involves positive actions and attitudes as well. The importance of autonomy and agency in Kant’s moral philosophy has led many philosophers to highlight respect for autonomy. Thus, we respect others as persons (negatively) by doing nothing to impair or destroy their capacity for autonomy, by not interfering with their autonomous decisions and their pursuit of the (morally acceptable) ends they value, and by not coercing or deceiving them or treating them paternalistically. We also respect them (positively) by protecting them from threats to their autonomy (which may require intervention when someone’s current decisions seem to put their autonomy at risk) and by promoting autonomy and the conditions for it (for example, by allowing and encouraging individuals to make their own decisions, take responsibility for their actions, and control their own lives). Some philosophers have highlighted Kant’s claim that rationality is the ground for recognition respect, arguing that to respect others is to engage with them not as instruments or obstacles but as persons who are to be reasoned with. The importance of the capacity to set ends and value things has been taken by some philosophers to entail that respect also involves helping others to promote and protect what they value and to pursue their ends, provided these are compatible with due respect for other persons, and making an effort to appreciate values that are different from our own. Kant’s emphasis in the doctrine of justice on the fundamental rights that persons have has led still others to view the duty of recognition respect for persons as the duty to respect the moral rights they have as persons; some have claimed that the duty to respect is nothing more than the duty to refrain from violating these rights (Benn 1988; Feinberg 1970).

Finally, it is worth noting that on Kant’s account, both the moral law and morally good people--those who do what is right out of respect for the moral law--are also objects of respect. The respect here is reverentia , the inescapable felt consciousness of the unconditional authority of the law and compelling examples of obedience to it, a consciousness of one’s mind “bowing,” as it were, in submission. Reverentia can give rise both to recognition respect of the law and persons as such and to evaluative respect for good people. (See discussions in kant’s Groundwork (4:401n); Metaphysics of Morals (6:399–418); Kritik der praktischen Vernunft ( Critique of Practical Reason ) (1788) (5:72–76); and Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft ( Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason ) (1793) (6:21–23); and in Stratton-Lake 200; Grenberg 1999; Wood 1999; Hill 1998; McCarty 1994).

Philosophical discussions of respect since Kant have tended, on the one hand, to develop or apply various aspects of it, or on the other, to take issue with it or develop alternative accounts of respect. Some of the discussions have focused on more theoretical issues. For example, Kant gives the notion of respect for persons a central and vital role in moral theory. One issue that has since concerned philosophers is whether respect for persons is the definitive focus of morality, either in the sense that moral rightness and goodness and hence all specific moral duties, rights, and virtues are explainable in terms of respect or in the sense that the supreme moral principle from which all other principles are derived is a principle of respect for persons. Some philosophers have developed ethical theories in which a principle of respect for persons is identified as the fundamental and comprehensive moral requirement (for example, Donagan 1977; Downie and Telfer 1969). Others (for example, Hill 1993; Frankena 1986; Cranor 1975) argue that while respect for persons is surely a very important moral consideration, it cannot be the principle from which the rest of morality is deduced. They maintain that there are moral contexts in which respect for persons is not an issue and that there are other dimensions of our moral relations with others that seem not to reduce to respect. Moreover, they argue, such a principle would seem not to provide moral grounds for believing that we ought to treat mentally incapacitated humans or nonhuman animals decently, or would (as Kant argues) make a duty to respect such beings only an indirect duty—one we have only because it is a way of respecting persons who value such beings or because our duty to respect ourselves requires that we not engage in activities that would dull our ability to treat persons decently—rather than a direct duty to such beings ( Metaphysics of Morals , 6:443).

Some theorists maintain that utilitarianism, a moral theory generally thought to be a rival to Kant’s theory, is superior with regard to this last point. A utilitarian might argue that it is sentience rather than the capacity for rational autonomy that is the ground of moral recognition respect, and so would regard mentally incapacitated humans and nonhuman animals as having moral standing and so as worthy of at least some moral respect in themselves. Another issue, then, is whether utilitarianism (or more generally, consequentialism) can indeed accommodate a principle of respect for persons. In opposition to the utilitarian claim, some Kantians argue that Kant’s ethics is distinguishable from consequentialist ethics precisely in maintaining that the fundamental demand of morality is not that we promote some value, such as the happiness of sentient beings, but that we respect the worth of humanity regardless of the consequences of doing so (Wood 1999; Korsgaard 1996). Thus, some philosophers argue that utilitarianism is inconsistent with respect for persons, inasmuch as utilitarianism, in requiring that all actions, principles, or motives promote the greatest good, requires treating persons as mere means on those occasions when doing so maximizes utility, whereas the very point of a principle of respect for persons is to rule out such trading of persons and their dignity for some other value (Benn 1988, Brody 1982). In opposition, other theorists maintain not only that a consequentialist theory can accommodate the idea of respect for persons (Cummiskey 2008, 1990; Pettit 1989; Gruzalski 1982; Landesman 1982; Downie and Telfer 1969), but also that utilitarianism is derivable from a principle of respect for persons (Downie and Telfer 1969) and that consequentialist theories provide a better grounding for duties to respect persons (Pettit 1989).

In addition to the debate between Kantian theory and utilitarianism, theoretical work has also been done in developing the role of respect for persons in Habermasian communicative ethics (Young 1997; Benhabib 1991) and in exploring respect in the ethics of other philosophers, including ancient Greek poets (Giorgini 2017), Plato (Rowe 2017), Aristotle (Thompson 2017; Weber 2017; Rabbås 2015; Jacobs 1995; Preus 1991), Hobbes (2017), Hegel (Laitinen 2017; Moland 2002), and Mill (Loizides 2017). Cross-cultural explorations include discussions of similarities and differences between western (Kantian) views of respect for persons and Indian (Ghosh-Dastidar 1987), Confucian (Liu 2019; Lu 2017; Chan 2006; Wawrytko 1982), and Taoist views (Wong 1984). Several theorists have developed distinctively feminist account of respect for persons (Farley 1993; Dillon 1992a).

Other philosophical discussions have been concerned with clarifying the nature of the respect that is owed to persons and of the persons that are owed respect. Some of these discussions aim to refine and develop Kant’s account, while others criticize it, or offer alternatives. One significant non-Kantian account is Pettit’s conversive theory of respect for persons (Pettit 2021, 2015). An influential development of the Kantian account is Darwall’s second-personal account (2021, 2015, 2008, 2006, 2004), according to which the regulation of conduct that moral recognition respect involves arises from our directly acknowledging each other as equal persons who have the moral authority to address moral demands to one another that each of us is morally obligated to accept. The reciprocal relations of persons as authoritative claims-makers and mutually accountable claims-responders is, in Darwall’s view, one way of understanding what Kant calls in the Groundwork a “kingdom of ends.”

Another area of interest has been the connections between respect and other attitudes and emotions, especially love and between respect and virtues such as trust. For example, Kant argues that we have duties of love to others just as we have duties of respect. However, neither the love nor the respect we owe is a matter of feeling (or, is pathological, as Kant says), but is, rather, a duty to adopt a certain kind of maxim, or policy of action: the duty of love is the duty to make the ends of others my own, the duty of respect is the duty to not degrade others to the status of mere means to my ends ( Metaphysics of Morals , 6: 449–450). Love and respect, in Kant’s view, are intimately united in friendship; nevertheless, they are in tension with one another and respect seems to be the morally more important of the two. Critics object to what they see here as Kant’s devaluing of emotions, maintaining that emotions are morally significant dimensions of persons both as subjects and as objects of both respect and love. In response, some philosophers contend that respect and love are more similar and closely connected in Kant’s theory than is generally recognized (Bagnoli 2003; Velleman 1999; Baron 1997; R. Johnson 1997). Others have developed accounts of respect that is or incorporates a form of love (agape) or care (Dillon 1992a; Downie and Telfer 1969; Maclagan 1960), and some have argued that emotions are included among the bases of dignity and that a complex emotional repertoire is necessary for Kantian respect (Wood 1999; Sherman 1998a; Farley 1993). In a related vein, some philosophers maintain that it is possible to acknowledge that another being is a person, i.e., a rational moral agent, and yet not have or give respect to that being. What is required for respecting a person is not simply recognizing what they are but emotionally experiencing their value as a person (Thomas 2001a; Buss 1999b; Dillon 1997). Other attitudes, emotions, and virtues whose connections with respect have been discussed are toleration (for example, Carter 2013; Deveaux 1998; Addis 2004), forgiveness (for example, Holmgren 1993), good manners (Stohr 2012; Buss 1999a), esteem (for example, Brennan and Pettit 1997), reverence (Woodruff 2003, 2001), honor (Darwall 2015), and appreciation (Hill 2021). Work has also been done on attitudes and emotions that are (usually taken to be) opposed to respect, such as arrogance (Dillon 2003) and contempt (Miceli and Castelfranci 2018; Mason 2017; Bell 2013).

Another source of dissatisfaction with Kant’s account has been with his characterization of persons and the quality in virtue of which they must be respected. In particular, Kant’s view that the rational will which is common to all persons is the ground of respect is thought to ignore the moral importance of the concrete particularity of each individual, and his emphasis on autonomy, which is often understood to involve the independence of one person from all others, is thought to ignore the essential relationality of human beings (for example, Noggle 1999; Farley 1993; Dillon 1992a; E. Johnson 1982). Rather than ignoring what distinguishes one person from another, it is argued, respect should involve attending to each person as a distinctive individual and to the concrete realities of human lives, and it should involve valuing difference as well as sameness and interdependence as well as independence. Other critics respond that respecting differences and particular identities inevitably reintroduces hierarchical discrimination that is antithetical to the equality among persons that the idea of respect for persons is supposed to express (for example, Bird 2004). Identity and difference may, however, be appropriate objects of other forms of consideration and appreciation.

The ideas of mutual respect or disrespect and respect for particularity and relationality has also become an important topic in moral and political philosophy. Helm has argued that a “community of respect” is essential to understanding what a person is (Helm 2017). Margalit argues that humiliation, both disrespect and the result of being disrespected, is a form of exclusion of individuals from the good of community (Margalit 1996). One issue is how persons ought to be respected in multicultural liberal democratic societies (for example, Balint 2006; Tomasi 1995; C. Taylor 1992; Kymlicka 1989). Respect for persons is one of the basic tenets of liberal democratic societies, which are founded on the ideal of the equal dignity of all citizens and which realize this ideal in the equalization of rights and entitlements among all citizens and so the rejection of discrimination and differential treatment. Some writers argue that respecting persons requires respecting the traditions and cultures that permeate and shape their individual identities (Addis 1997). But as the citizenry of such societies becomes increasingly more diverse and as many groups come to regard their identities or very existence as threatened by a homogenizing equality, liberal societies face the question of whether they should or could respond to demands to respect the unique identity of individuals or groups by differential treatment, such as extending political rights or opportunities to some cultural groups (for example, Native Americans, French Canadians, African-Americans) and not others. Some of these discussions are carried out in terms of recognition rather than of respect, although some theorists contrast recognition and respect (McBride 2013). Honneth develops a broader, critical account of recognition that argues for a harmonious relationship among universal (recognition) respect, esteem, and love, arguing that each is essential for the development of positive relations towards ourselves (Honneth 2007, 1995).

The idea that all persons are owed respect has been applied in a wide variety of contexts. For instance, some philosophers employ it to justify various positions in normative ethics, such as the claim that persons have moral rights (Benn 1971; Feinberg 1970; Downie and Telfer 1969) or duties (Fried 1978; Rawls 1971), or to argue for principles of equality (Williams 1962), justice (Narveson 2002a, 2002b; Nussbaum 1999), and education (Andrews 1976). Others appeal to respect for persons in addressing a wide variety of practical issues such as abortion, racism and sexism, rape, punishment, physician-assisted suicide, pornography, affirmative action, forgiveness, terrorism, sexual harassment, cooperation with injustice, treatment of gays and lesbians, sexual ethics, and many others. In political philosophy, respect for persons has been used to examine issues of global inequality (e.g., Moellendorf 2010). One very important application context is biomedical ethics, where the principle of respect for autonomy is one of four basic principles that have become “the backbone of contemporary Western health care ethics” (Brannigan and Boss 2001, 39; see also Beauchamp and Childress 1979/2001 and, for example, Kerstein 2021; Munson 2000; Beauchamp and Walters 1999). The idea of respect for patient autonomy has transformed health care practice, which had traditionally worked on physician-based paternalism, and the principle enters into issues such as informed consent, truth-telling, confidentiality, respecting refusals of life-saving treatment, the use of patients as subjects in medical experimentation, and so on.

Although persons are the paradigm objects of moral recognition respect, it is a matter of some debate whether they are the only things that we ought morally to respect. One serious objection raised against Kant’s ethical theory is that in claiming that only rational beings are ends in themselves deserving of respect, it licenses treating all things which aren’t persons as mere means to the ends of rational beings, and so it supports domination and exploitation of all nonpersons and the natural environment. Taking issue with the Kantian position that only persons are respect-worthy, many philosophers have argued that humans who are not agents or not yet agents, human embryos, nonhuman animals, sentient creatures, plants, species, all living things, biotic communities, the natural ecosystem of our planet, and even mountains, rocks, and viruses have (full or perhaps just partial) moral standing or worth and so are appropriate objects of or are owed moral recognition respect. Of course, it is possible to value such things instrumentally insofar as they serve human interests, but the idea is that such things matter morally and have a claim to respect in their own right, independently of their usefulness to humans.

A variety of different strategies have been employed in arguing for such respect claims. For example, the concept of moral recognition respect is sometimes stripped down to its essentials, omitting much of the content of the concept as it appears in respect for persons contexts. The respect that is owed to all things, it can be argued, is a very basic form of attentive contemplation of the object combined with a prima facie assumption that the object might have intrinsic value (Birch 1993). Another strategy is to argue that the true grounds for moral worth and recognition respect are other than or wider than rationality. One version of this strategy (employed by P. Taylor 1986) is to argue that all living things, persons and nonpersons, have equal inherent worth and so equally deserve the same kind of moral respect, because the ground of the worth of living things that are nonpersons is continuous with the ground of the worth for persons. For example, we can regard all living things as respect-worthy in virtue of being quasi-agents and centers of organized activity that pursue their own good in their own unique way. I

A third strategy, which is employed within Kantian ethics, is to argue that respect for persons logically entails respect for nonpersons. For example, one can argue that rational nature is to be respected not only by respecting humanity in someone’s person but also by respecting things that bear certain relations to rational nature, for example, by being fragments of it or necessary conditions of it. Respect would thus be owed to humans who are not persons and to animals and other sentient beings (Foreman 2017; Rocha 2015; Wood 1998). Another strategy argues against Kant that we can both acknowledge that rational moral agents have the highest moral standing and worth and are owed maximal respect, and also maintain that other beings have lesser but still morally significant standing or worth and so deserve less but still some respect. So, although it is always wrong to use moral agents merely as means, it may be justifiable to use nonpersons as means (for example, to do research on human embryos or kill animals for food) provided their moral worth is also respectfully acknowledged (Meyer and Nelson, 2001). Much philosophical work has been done, particularly in environmental ethics, to determine the practical implications of the claim that things other than persons are owed respect (e.g., Corral 2015; Foreman 2015; Schmidtz 2011; Bognar 2011; Connolly 2006; Wiggins 2000; Westra 1989).

4. Self-Respect

While there is much controversy about respect for persons and other things, there is surprising agreement among moral and political philosophers about at least this much concerning respect for oneself: self-respect is something of great importance in everyday life. Indeed, it is regarded both as morally required and as essential to the ability to live a satisfying, meaningful, flourishing life—a life worth living—and just as vital to the quality of our lives together. Saying that a person has no self-respect or acts in a way no self-respecting person would act, or that a social institution undermines the self-respect of some people, is generally a strong moral criticism. Nevertheless, as with respect itself, there is philosophical disagreement, both real and merely apparent, about the nature, scope, grounds, and requirements of self-respect. Self-respect is often defined as a sense of worth or as due respect for oneself; it has been analyzed in various ways: it is treated as a moral duty connected with the duty to respect all persons, as something to which all persons have a right and which it would be unjust to undermine, as a moral virtue essential to morally good living, and as something one earns by living up to demanding standards. Self-respect is frequently (but not always correctly) identified with or compared to self-esteem, self-confidence, dignity, self-love, a sense of honor, self-reliance, pride, and it is contrasted (but not always correctly) with servility, shame, humility, self-abnegation, arrogance, self-importance. Understanding how, if at all, self-respect is connected with and different from these other attitudes and stances is important to having a good understanding of self-respect and the other things.

In addition to the questions philosophers have addressed about respect in general, other questions have been of particular concern to those interested in self-respect, such as: (1) What is self-respect, and how is it connected to or different from related notions such as self-esteem, self-confidence, pride, and so on? How are respect for persons and respect for oneself alike and unalike? (2) How is self-respect related to such things as moral rights, virtue, autonomy, integrity, and identity? (3) Is there a moral duty to respect ourselves as there is a duty to recognition respect others? (4) Are there objective conditions—for example, moral standards or correct judgments—that a person must meet in order to have self-respect, or is self-respect a subjective phenomenon that gains support from any sort of self-valuing without regard to correctness or moral acceptability? (5) Does respecting oneself conceptually entail or causally require or lead to respecting other persons (or anything else)? And how are respect for other persons and respect for oneself alike and unalike? (6) What features of an individual’s psychology and experience, what aspects of the social context, and what modes of interactions with others support or undermine self-respect? (7) Are social institutions and practices to be judged just or unjust (at least in part) by how they affect self-respect? Can considerations of self-respect help us to better understand the nature and wrongness of injustices such as oppression and to determine effective and morally appropriate ways to resist or end them?

Self-respect is a form of self-regard, a moral relation of persons (and only persons) to themselves that concerns their own important worth. Self-respect is thus essentially a valuing form of respect. It is, moreover, a normative stance--it is due regard for oneself, proper regard for the dignity of one’s person or position (as the O.E.D. puts it). Like respect for others, self-respect is a complex of multilayered and interpenetrating phenomena; it involves all those aspects of cognition, valuation, affect, expectation, motivation, action, and reaction that compose a mode of being in the world at the heart of which is an appropriate appreciation of oneself as having significant worth. Unlike some forms of respect, self-respect is not something one has only now and again or that might have no effect on its object. Rather, self-respect has to do with the structure and attunement of an individual’s identity and of her life, and it reverberates throughout the self, affecting the configuration and constitution of the person’s thoughts, desires, values, emotions, commitments, dispositions, and actions. As expressing or constituting one’s sense of worth, it includes an engaged understanding of one’s worth, as well as a desire and disposition to protect and preserve it. Accounts of self-respect differ in their characterizations of the beliefs, desires, affects, and behaviors that are constitutive of it, chiefly because of differences concerning both the aspects or conception of the self insofar as it is the object of one’s respect and also the nature and grounds of the worth of the self or aspects of the self.

Most theorists agree that as there are different kinds of respect, so there are different kinds of self-respect. However, we clearly cannot apply all kinds of respect to ourselves: it makes no sense to talk of directive respect for oneself, for instance, and although one might regard oneself or some of one’s characteristics as obstacles (“I’m my own worst enemy”), this would not generally be considered a form of self-respect. Because the notion of self-worth is the organizing motif for self-respect, and because in the dominant Western tradition two kinds of worth are ascribed to persons, two kinds of self-respect can be distinguished.

One way of expressing the distinction is to focus on the kinds of self-worth around which it is oriented. One kind of worth has to do with what the individual is: occupant of a social role, member of a certain class, group, or people, someone with a certain place in a social hierarchy, or simply a human person. Kantian dignity is one form, but not the only form, of this kind of worth. Such status- or identity-grounded worth entails both entitlements to due treatment from others and responsibilities for the individual in virtue of being the kind of thing that is rightly the object of respect. Recognition self-respect centers on this kind of worth. (Bird calls this “entitlement self-respect” (Bird 2010); Schemmel calls it “standing self-respect” (Schemmel 2019)). The censuring question, “Have you no self-respect?”, the phrase “No self-respecting person would ...,” and the idea that everyone has a right to self-respect concern recognition self-respect. Another kind of self-respect depends not on what one is but on the kind of person one is making of oneself, on the extent to which one’s character and conduct meet standards of worthiness. Evaluative self-respect has to do with this second kind of worth, an acquired worth that we can call “merit,” which is based on the quality of one’s character and conduct. (Darwall (1997) calls this “appraisal self-respect”; Bird and Schemmel call it “standards self-respect,” since merit is a function of the standards to which one holds oneself and by which one evaluates or appraises oneself.) We earn or lose merit, and so deserve or don’t deserve evaluative self-respect, through what we do or become. Although they are different, recognition self-respect and evaluative self-respect are related. The former involves, among other things, recognizing certain norms as entailed by one’s identity-based worth and valuing oneself appropriately by striving to live in accord with them. The latter involves regarding oneself as having merit because one is or is becoming the kind of person who does live in accord with what one regards as appropriate norms or standards.

Individuals have numerous identities and so worth bases for different forms of recognition self-respect. While self-respect based on one’s social role or position can be quite important to the individual and how she lives her life as a self-respecting chef, rabbi, mother, teacher, Hindu, or member of the aristocracy, most philosophical discussions, heavily influenced by Kant, focus on dignity-based respect for oneself as a person, that is, on moral recognition self-respect. Recognition respect for oneself as a person, then, involves living in light of an understanding and appreciation of oneself as having dignity and moral status just in virtue of being a person, and of the moral constraints that arise from that dignity and status. All persons are morally obligated or entitled to have this kind of self-respect. Because the dominant Kantian conception of persons grounds dignity in three things—equality, agency, and individuality—we can further distinguish three kinds of recognition self-respect. The first is respect for oneself as a person among persons, as a member of the moral community with a status and dignity equal to every other person (see, for example, Thomas 1983a; Boxill 1976; Hill 1973). This involves having some conception of the kinds of treatment from others that would count as one’s due as a person and treatment that would be degrading or beneath one’s dignity, desiring to be regarded and treated appropriately, and resenting and being disposed to protest disregard and disrespectful treatment. Thinking of oneself as having certain moral rights that others ought not to violate is part of this kind of self-respect; servility (regarding oneself as the inferior of others) and arrogance (thinking oneself superior to others) are among its opposites.

The second kind of recognition self-respect involves an appreciation of oneself as an agent, a being with the ability and responsibility to act autonomously and value appropriately (see, for example, G. Taylor 1985; Telfer 1968). Persons who respect themselves as agents take their responsibilities seriously, especially their responsibilities to live in accord with their dignity as persons, to govern themselves fittingly, and to make of themselves and their lives something they believe to be good. So, self-respecting persons regard certain forms of acting, thinking, desiring, and feeling as befitting them as persons and other forms as self-debasing or shameful, and they expect themselves to adhere to the former and avoid the latter. They take care of themselves and seek to develop and use their talents and abilities in pursuit of their plans, projects, and goals. Those who are shameless, uncontrolled, weak-willed, self-consciously sycophantic, chronically irresponsible, slothfully dependent, self-destructive, or unconcerned with the shape and direction of their lives may be said to not respect themselves as agents.

A third kind of recognition self-respect involves the appreciation of the importance of being autonomously self-defining. One way a self-respecting individual does this is through having, and living in light, of a normative self-conception, i.e., a conception of being and living that she regards as worthy of her as the particular person she is. Such a self-conception both gives expression to ideals and commitments that shape the individual’s identity, and also organizes desires, choices, pursuits, and projects in ways that give substance and worth to the self. Self-respecting people hold themselves to personal expectations and standards the disappointment of which they would regard as unworthy of them, shameful, even contemptible (although they may not apply these standards to others) (Hill 1982). People who sell out, betray their own values, live inauthentic lives, let themselves be defined by others, or are complacently self-accepting lack this kind of recognition self-respect.

To these three Kantian kinds of recognition self-respect, we can add a fourth, which has to do with the fact that it is not just as abstract human beings or as agents with personal and universalizable moral goals and obligations that individuals can, do, or should respect themselves but also as concrete persons embedded in particular social structures and occupying various social positions with status-related responsibilities they must meet to be self-respecting (Middleton 2006). This last kind also has political implications, as discussed below.

Evaluative self-respect, which expresses confidence in one’s merit as a person, rests on an appraisal of oneself in light of the normative self-conception that structures recognition self-respect. Recognition self-respecting persons are concerned to be the kind of person they think it is good and appropriate for them to be and they try to live the kind of life such a person should live. Thus, they have and try to live by certain standards of worthiness by which they are committed to judge themselves. Indeed, they stake themselves, their value and their identities, on living in accord with these standards. Because they want to know where they stand, morally, they are disposed to reflectively examine and evaluate their character and conduct in light of their normative vision of themselves. And it matters to them that they are able to “bear their own survey,” as Hume says (1739, 620). Evaluative self-respect contains the judgment that one is or is becoming the worthy kind of person one seeks to be, and, more significantly, that one is not in danger of becoming an unworthy kind of person (Dillon 2004). Evaluative self-respect holds, at the least, the judgment that one “comes up to scratch,” as Telfer (1968) puts it. Those whose conduct is unworthy or whose character is shameful by their own standards do not deserve their own evaluative respect. However, people can be poor self-appraisers and their standards can be quite inappropriate to them or to any person, and so their evaluative self-respect, though still subjectively satisfying, can be unwarranted, as can the loss or lack of it. Interestingly, although philosophers have paid scant attention to evaluative respect for others, significant work has been done on evaluative self-respect. This may reflect an asymmetry between the two: although our evaluative respect for others may have no effect on them, perhaps because we don’t express it or they don’t value our appraisal, our own self-evaluation matters intensely to us and can powerfully affect our self-identity and the shape and structure of our lives. Indeed, an individual’s inability to stomach herself can profoundly diminish the quality of her life, even her desire to continue living.

Some philosophers have contended that a third kind of self-valuing underlies both recognition and evaluative self-respect. It is a more basic sense of worth that enables an individual to develop the intellectually more sophisticated forms, a precondition for being able to take one’s qualities or the fact that one is a person as grounds of positive self-worth. It has been called “basic psychological security” (Thomas 1989), “self-love” (Buss 1999), and “basal self-respect” (Dillon 1997). Basal self-valuing is our most fundamental sense of ourselves as mattering and our primordial interpretation of self and self-worth. Strong and secure basal self-respect can immunize an individual against personal failing or social denigration, but damage to basal self-respect, which can occur when people grow up in social, political, or cultural environments that devalue them or “their kind,” can make it impossible for people to properly interpret themselves and their self-worth, because it affects the way in which they assess reality and weigh reasons. Basal self-respect is thus the ground of the possibility of recognition and evaluative self-respect.

There are also non-deontological accounts of moral recognition self-respect. Utilitarians, for example, can treat self-respect as of paramount importance to a flourishing or happy life, and thereby justifying moral constraints on the treatment of others (Scarre 1992). Similarly, one could give a virtue-theoretical account of recognition self-respect, especially the agentic form (Dillon 2015), although this avenue has been relatively unexplored

It is common in everyday discourse and philosophical discussion to treat self-respect and self-esteem as synonyms. It is evaluative self-respect, typically, with which self-esteem is conflated (Dillon 2013). Evaluative self-respect and (high) self-esteem are both forms of positive self-regard concerned with one’s worth, both involve having a favorable view of oneself in virtue of one’s activities and personal qualities, and a person can have or lack either one undeservedly. Nevertheless, many philosophers have argued that the two attitudes are importantly different (for example, Dillon 2004, 2013; Harris 2001; Chazan 1998; Sachs 1981; Darwall 1977), although some theorists treat the evaluative stance as a form of self-esteem (“mortal self-esteem”). The main difference between the two is that evaluative self-respect is a normative stance and self-esteem is not: the former calls for justification in light of standards one has good reason to regard as appropriate, while the latter arises from beliefs about oneself whose justification need not matter to one and that need not involve standards-based self-assessment. Many philosophers agree that evaluative self-respect is morally important, which makes sense inasmuch as it is in the service of the moral demands of dignity, worthy character, agency, and one’s moral commitments, and so is a motivation for morally appropriate living. Self-esteem--having a good opinion of oneself or feeling good about oneself--is one of the most extensively studied phenomena in psychology and social psychology; it is generally regarded by social scientists as central to healthy psychological functioning and well-being, although they note that it has no necessary connection to moral values, is central to such negative states as narcissism, and can lead to serious disrespect of others and harm unless appropriately constrained (Baumeister et al 1996). (But see Keshen (2017) on the value of reasonable self-esteem.) One way of distinguishing evaluative self-respect and self-esteem is by their grounds and the points of view from which they are appraised. Evaluative self-respect involves an assessment from a moral point of view of one’s character and conduct in light of standards one regards as implied by one’s moral worth as an agent and a person. Self-esteem, as popularly and scientifically understood, is based both on whatever qualities or activities one prizes or thinks others prize, and on the esteem one believes one gets from others whose esteem one values. It does not essentially concern morally significant worth, appropriate self-valuing, or self-assessment from a moral point of view, and it can be based on features wholly unrelated to or even opposed to good character. For example, one can have a good opinion of oneself in virtue of being a good joke-teller or for having won an important sports competition and yet not think one is a good person because of it (Darwall 1977). And depending on what serves one’s psychological needs or suits one’s companions, one can derive high self-esteem from successful thuggery as from being honest and kind. To have self-esteem is to feel good about oneself; to have evaluative self-respect is to feel justified, to be able to hold one’s head up, look others in the eye, face oneself in the mirror. Another way of distinguishing them focuses on what it is to lose them: to lose evaluative respect for oneself is to find oneself to be shameful, contemptible, or intolerable; to lose self-esteem is to think less well of oneself, to be downcast because one believes one lacks qualities that would add to one’s luster (Harris 2001) or that others think less well of one.

Self-respect is also often identified with pride, although the two are rather different (Morton 2017). Just as there are different kinds of self-respect so, there are different kinds of pride, which are complexly related. In one sense, pride is the pleasure or satisfaction taken in one’s achievements, possessions, or associations; this kind of pride can be an affective element of either evaluative self-respect or self-esteem. In another sense, pride is inordinate self-esteem or vanity, an excessively high opinion of one’s qualities, accomplishments, or status that can make one arrogant and contemptuous of others. This kind of pride contrasts with both well-grounded evaluative self-respect and the interpersonal kind of moral recognition self-respect. But pride can also be a claim to and celebration of a status worth or to equality with others, especially other groups (for example, Black Pride), which is interpersonal recognition self-respect (Thomas 1993a, 1978–79). Pride can also be “proper pride,” which is a sense of one’s dignity that prevents one from doing what is unworthy; this is the agentic dimension of recognition self-respect. Pride’s opposites, shame and humility, are also closely related to self-respect. A loss of evaluative self-respect may be expressed in shame, but shameless people manifest a lack of recognition self-respect; and although humiliation can diminish or undermine recognition self-respect and evaluative self-respect, humility is an appropriate dimension of the evaluative self-respect of any imperfect person.

One issue with which contemporary philosophers have been concerned is whether self-respect is an objective concept or a subjective one. If it is the former, then there are certain beliefs, attitudes, and dispositions a person must have to be self-respecting. A person who thought of herself as a lesser sort of being whose interests and well-being are less important than those of others would not count as having moral recognition self-respect, no matter how appropriate she regards her stance. If self-respect is a subjective concept, then a person counts as having self-respect if, for example, she believes she is not tolerating treatment she regards as unworthy or behaving in ways she thinks is beneath her, regardless of whether her judgments about herself are accurate or her standards or sense of what she is due are judged by others to be reasonable or worthy (Massey 1983a). Psychologists, for whom “self-esteem” is the term of practice, tend to regard the various dimensions of a person’s sense of worth as subjective. Many philosophers treat the interpersonal dimension of recognition self-respect objectively, and it is generally thought that having manifestly inaccurate beliefs about oneself is good grounds for at least calling an individual’s sense of worth unjustified or compromised (Meyers 1989). But there is no consensus regarding the standards to which individuals hold themselves and by which they judge themselves, and certainly the standards of the self-defining dimension of moral recognition self-respect are inescapably, though perhaps not exclusively, subjective. Complicating the objective/subjective distinction, however, is the fact of the social construction of self-respect. What it is to be a person or to have a status worthy of respect, what treatment and conduct are appropriate to a person or one with such a status, what forms of life and character have merit—all of these are given different content in different sociocultural contexts. Individuals necessarily, though perhaps not inalterably, learn to engage with themselves and with issues of self-worth in the terms and modes of the sociocultural conceptions in which they have been immersed. And different kinds of individuals may be given different opportunities in different sociocultural contexts to acquire or develop the grounds of the different kinds of self-respect (Dillon 2021, 1997; Moody-Adams 1992–93; Meyers 1989; Thomas 1983b). Even fully justified self-respect may thus be less than strongly objective and more than simply subjective.

Self-respect is frequently appealed to as a means of justifying a wide variety of philosophical claims or positions, generally in arguments of the form: x promotes (or undermines) self-respect; therefore, x is to that extent to be morally approved (or objected to). For example, appeals to self-respect have been used to argue for, among many other things, the value of moral rights (Feinberg 1970), moral requirements or limits regarding forgiving others or oneself (Dillon 2001; Holmgren 1998, 1993; Novitz 1998; Haber 1991; Murphy 1982), and both the rightness and wrongness of practices such as affirmative action. Such arguments rely on rather than establish the moral importance of self-respect. Most philosophers who attend to self-respect tend to treat it as important in one of two ways, which are exemplified in the very influential work of Kant and John Rawls.

Kant argues that, just as we have a moral duty to respect others as persons, so we have a moral duty to respect ourselves as persons, a duty that derives from our dignity as rational beings. This duty requires us to act always in an awareness of our dignity and so to act only in ways that are consistent with our status as ends in ourselves and to refrain from acting in ways that abase, degrade, defile, or disavow our rational nature. That is, we have a duty of moral recognition self-respect. In The Metaphysics of Morals (1797), Kant argues for specific duties to oneself generated by the general duty to respect humanity in our persons, including duties to not engage in suicide, misuse of our sexual powers, drunkenness and other unrestrained indulgence of inclination, lying, self-deception, avarice, and servility. Kant also maintains that the duty of self-respect is the most important moral duty, for unless there were duties to respect oneself, there could be no moral duties at all. Moreover, fulfilling our duty to respect ourselves is a necessary condition of fulfilling our duties to respect other persons. Kant maintains that we are always aware of our dignity as persons and so of our moral obligation to respect ourselves, and he identifies this awareness as a feeling of reverential respect for ourselves. This is one of the natural capacities of feeling which we could have no duty to acquire but that make it possible for us to be motivated by the thought of duty. Reverence for self is, along with “moral feeling,” conscience, and love of others, a subjective source of morality, and it is the motivational ground of the duty of self-respect. Kant also discusses evaluative self-respect, especially in Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and his Lectures on Ethics (1779), as a combination of noble pride, which is the awareness that we have honored and preserved our dignity by acting in morally worthy ways, and a healthy dose of humility, which is the awareness that we inevitably fall short of the lofty requirements of the moral law. Kant regards well-grounded evaluative self-respect as a subjective motivation to continue striving to do right and be good.

Rawls, by contrast, views self-respect neither as something we are morally required to have and maintain nor as a feeling we necessarily have, but as an entitlement that social institutions are required by justice to support and not undermine. In A Theory of Justice (1971) he argues that self-respect (which he sometimes calls “self-esteem” is a “primary good,” something that rational beings want whatever else they want, because it is vital both to the experienced quality of individual lives and to the ability to carry out or achieve whatever projects or aims an individual might have. It is, moreover, a social good, one that individuals are able to acquire only under certain social and political conditions. Rawls defines self-respect as including “a person’s sense of his own value, his secure conviction that his conception of the good, his plan of life, is worth carrying out,” and it implies “a confidence in one’s ability, so far as it is within one’s power, to fulfill one’s intentions” (Rawls 1971, 440). He argues that individuals’ access to self-respect is to a large degree a function of how the basic institutional structure of a society defines and distributes the social bases of self-respect, which include the messages about the relative worth of citizens that are conveyed in the structure and functioning of institutions, the distribution of fundamental political rights and civil liberties, access to the resources individuals need to pursue their plans of life, the availability of diverse associations and communities within which individuals can seek affirmation of their worth and their plans of life from others, and the norms governing public interaction among citizens. Since self-respect is vital to individual well-being, Rawls argues that justice requires that social institutions and policies be designed to support and not undermine self-respect. Rawls argues that the principles of justice as fairness are superior to utilitarian principles insofar as they better affirm and promote self-respect for all citizens.

Rawls’s view that the ability of individuals to respect themselves is heavily dependent on their social and political circumstances has been echoed by a number of theorists working in moral, social, and political philosophy. For example, Margalit (1996) argues that a decent society is one whose institutions do not humiliate people, that is, give people good reason to consider their self-respect to be injured (but see Bird 2010). Honneth’s theory of social criticism (1995) focuses on the way people’s self-respect and self-identity necessarily depend on the recognition of others and so are vulnerable to being misrecognized or ignored both by social institutions and in interpersonal interactions. Some theorists have used the concept of self-respect to examine the oppression of women, people of color, gays and lesbians, and other groups that are marginalized, stigmatized, or exploited by the dominant culture, identifying the plethora of ways in which oppressive institutions, images, and actions can do damage to the self-respect of members of these groups. Other writers discuss ways that individuals and groups might preserve or restore self-respect in the face of injustice or oppression, and the ways in which the development of self-respect in individuals living under oppression or injustice empowers them to participate in the monumental struggles for justice and liberation (for example, Babbitt 2000, 1993; Bartky 1990a, 1990b, 1990c; Basevich 2022; Boxill 1992, 1976; Boxill and Boxill 2015; Collins 1990; Dillon 2021, 1997, 1995; Diller 2001; Hay 2013, 2011; Holberg 2017; Ikuenobe 2004; Khader 2021; Meyers 1989, 1986; Mohr 1992, 1988; Moody-Adams 1992–93; Seglow 2016; Statman 2002; Thomas 2001b, 1983a, 1978–79; Weber 2016). Some theorists, especially those working within a feminist framework, have argued that the prevailing conceptions of self-respect in Kantian theory or in contemporary liberal societies themselves contain features that reflect objectionable aspects of the dominating culture, and they have attempted to reconceive self-respect in ways that are more conducive to empowerment and emancipation (for example, Borgwald 2012, Dillon 1992c).

In moral philosophy, theorists have also focused on connections between self-respect and various virtues and vices, such as self-trust (Borgwald 2012; Govier 1993), justice (Bloomfield 2011), honesty (Mauri 2011), benevolence (Andrew 2011), humility (Dillon 2020, 2015; Grenberg 2010), self-forgiveness (Dillon 2001; Holmgren 1998; Novitz 1998), self-improvement (Johnson 2011), general immorality (Bagnoli 2009; Bloomfield 2008), and arrogance (Dillon 2022, 2021, 2015, 2007, 2003).

Everyday discourse and practices insist that respect and self-respect are personally, socially, politically, and morally important, and philosophical discussions of the concepts bear this out. Their roles in our lives as individuals, as people living in complex relations with other people and surrounded by a plethora of other beings and things on which our attitudes and actions have tremendous effects, cannot, as these discussions reveal, be taken lightly. The discussions thus far shed light on the nature and significance of the various forms of respect and self-respect and their positions in a nexus of profoundly important but philosophically challenging and contestable concepts. These discussions also reveal that more work remains to be done in clarifying these attitudes and their places among and implications for our concepts and our lives.

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Essay on Respect

Respect is a fundamental value that forms the cornerstone of harmonious and empathetic societies. It is a concept deeply ingrained in human interactions and has far-reaching implications for relationships, communities, and the world at large. In this essay, we will explore the significance of respect, its various dimensions, and the profound impact it has on individuals and society. Understanding respect is crucial for fostering unity, empathy, and a more compassionate world.

Respect can be defined as a positive regard for the inherent worth, dignity, and rights of all individuals, regardless of their background, beliefs, or differences. It involves treating others with consideration, courtesy, and empathy, acknowledging their humanity, and valuing their perspectives and boundaries.

The Dimensions of Respect

  • Respect for Individual Rights: This dimension emphasizes recognizing and upholding the rights and freedoms of every person. It encompasses freedom of expression, religion, and personal choices, as well as the right to live free from discrimination and harm.
  • Respect for Diversity: Respect goes beyond mere tolerance; it celebrates the rich tapestry of human diversity. Embracing differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and beliefs enriches our collective experience.
  • Respect for Personal Boundaries: Respecting personal boundaries means honoring the physical and emotional space of others. It involves seeking consent, refraining from invasive actions, and allowing individuals to express their feelings without judgment.
  • Respect for Nature: Showing respect extends to the environment and all living beings. It entails responsible stewardship of the planet, recognizing the interconnectedness of all life forms.

The Significance of Respect

  • Fostering Empathy: Respect fosters empathy by encouraging individuals to put themselves in others’ shoes, understand their perspectives, and relate to their experiences. Empathy is the foundation of compassion and cooperation.
  • Building Trust: Respect is the cornerstone of trust in any relationship, whether personal or professional. When people feel respected, they are more likely to trust one another, communicate openly, and collaborate effectively.
  • Conflict Resolution: Respect plays a pivotal role in resolving conflicts peacefully. It enables individuals to engage in constructive dialogue, find common ground, and reach compromises without resorting to aggression or hostility.
  • Promoting Inclusivity: Respect creates an inclusive environment where all voices are heard and valued. In such spaces, individuals from diverse backgrounds feel safe to express themselves and contribute to society’s growth.
  • Enhancing Personal Well-being: Experiencing respect has a positive impact on one’s mental and emotional well-being. It fosters a sense of self-worth, belonging, and overall life satisfaction.
  • Global Harmony: On a global scale, respect is a powerful tool for promoting peace and international cooperation. Mutual respect among nations can lead to diplomacy, conflict resolution, and the pursuit of common goals, ultimately contributing to a more peaceful world.

Importance of Respect

  • Cultural Understanding: Respect for cultural diversity is essential in today’s interconnected world. By respecting and learning about different cultures, we can break down stereotypes, reduce prejudice, and build bridges between communities. This promotes a global perspective and encourages tolerance.
  • Respect for Authority: Respecting authority figures, such as teachers, parents, and leaders, is crucial for maintaining order and fostering a sense of responsibility. It sets a positive example for others and creates a culture of obedience to rules and regulations.
  • Role in Education: In educational settings, respect is the foundation for effective teaching and learning. When teachers and students respect each other, the classroom becomes an environment where ideas can be freely shared, questions are encouraged, and intellectual growth flourishes.
  • Respect for Self: Self-respect is equally important. It involves valuing your own worth, setting healthy boundaries, and making choices that align with your values and goals. When you respect yourself, you are better equipped to demand respect from others.
  • Respect in Leadership: Leaders who lead with respect rather than fear tend to inspire loyalty and commitment among their followers. They encourage teamwork, inclusivity, and innovation by valuing the contributions of each team member.
  • Resolving Conflicts: Respect is a powerful tool in resolving conflicts peacefully. It involves active listening, empathy, and a willingness to compromise. When individuals approach conflicts with respect, they are more likely to find mutually beneficial solutions.
  • Impact on Mental Health: A lack of respect can lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and anxiety. On the other hand, experiencing respect can improve mental health by creating a supportive and nurturing environment.
  • Respect for Future Generations: Practicing respect today has a lasting impact on future generations. By teaching children and young people about respect, we pass on the values and behaviors that can create a better world for them to inherit.
  • Respect for Animals: Respect extends to the treatment of animals. Treating animals with kindness and ensuring their well-being is not only an ethical responsibility but also reflects our commitment to a compassionate society.

In conclusion, understanding and practicing respect is not just a moral duty but a vital element in building harmonious societies. Respect transcends boundaries, fosters empathy, and fuels positive interactions. By valuing the dignity and rights of individuals, we create an atmosphere where cooperation, tolerance, and personal growth can thrive. As we embark on our journey of learning and growth, let respect be our guiding principle, shaping a better world for all

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Respect is a fundamental pillar in a harmonious society. At a young age, we are taught that everyone is deserving of respect and should likewise respect others, regardless of diverging beliefs, cultures, and origins. The underlying golden rule is never to do what we don’t want others to do to us.

However, as we grow older, we find it harder to respect people who go against our moral standards and social mores. Nevertheless, acknowledging people and their rights could already be a form of respect. But when people do not care to meet this bare minimum for respect, conflicts and crimes can ensue. 

5 Essay Examples

1. on self-respect by joan didion, 2. respect, trust and partnership: keeping diplomacy on course in troubling times by ted osius, 3. the respect deficit by richard v. reeves, 4. the emotional attachment of national symbols by karina lafayette, 5. filipino hospitality and respect for the aged by kashiwagi shiho, 1. how to show respect to criminals, 2. respect vs. love in relationships, 3. showing respect on social media, 4. respecting indigenous cultures, 5. how to respect data privacy rights, 6. what is respect for parents day, 7. when employees do not feel respected , 8. respect for animals.

“To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves—there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect.”

Didion explores misplaced self-respect through her experience of not making it to Phi Beta Kappa and the experience of others. What has been primarily associated with flattering others, self-respect, to Didion, is a virtue that can be developed when we emancipate ourselves from the expectations of others. 

“…[W]hen we show respect it has a big impact. Showing respect means figuring out what is really, truly important to our partners and taking that seriously. It costs America almost nothing and gets us almost everything.”

A former US ambassador to Vietnam shares that respect is a powerful tool to build and strengthen trading partners’ relationships. In the end, he suggests strengthening diplomacy with country partners, such as developing language and regional expertise.

“Here is a much deeper kind of inequality, caused not by a lack of resources, but by a lack of respect. You might be much richer or poorer than I am. But if we treat each other with mutual respect, we are, relationally speaking, equal.”

The essay talks about relational equality and how the lack of it could undermine both the sense of respect for others and the self. It touches on how the world’s meritocratic system has furthered the divide between classes and driven respect away from their reach. The urgent goal is to restore the sense of respect amid the bustle of our daily motions in life.

“National symbols deserve respect not because they are static representations of unchanging ideals, but because they offer a focal point for diverse societies to express and navigate what it is that unites and represents them.”

Respect for national symbols is imperative. But when the approach turns to one that is resistant to prospects of modifying national symbols, then we are missing out on opportunities to re-evaluate and re-invent how we can best represent our collective ideals. Instead of treating national symbols as sacred icons impervious to change, the best way to respect them and what they represent is to brave the thorny road of change. 

“When a Filipino child meets an older family member, the youth customarily greets them with a gesture called ‘mano po,’ taking the older relative’s hand and placing it on his or her own forehead to express profound respect for the elder.”

The essay thoroughly navigates how the Philippine society defends its elders, from the gestures of greeting to how the government, private sector, and non-profit organizations band together to support elders living alone. Other countries can learn from the Philippines’ experience in caring for their elders, especially in the quality care their nurses provide.

8 Thought-Provoking Prompts on Essays About Respect

It is easy to respect those who have worked hard and are deemed as typically well-behaved. But what about criminals who are stereotyped as not showing respect to others, or working hard? Are they deserving of our respect? Answer these questions and determine whether criminals are provided decent facilities and programs that inspire them to change. You can also look into how police officers keep track of their value of life to avoid the abuse of power and putting an end to life with unnecessary force. 

couple, happy, man-1329349.jpg

Take a deep dive into the differences between respect and love and discuss which is more important in a relationship. But first, explain the two and provide narrative examples to demonstrate their contrasts.

For example, with love, one might be inclined to say, “I’m willing to change myself for you.” But with a respect-filled relationship, boundaries are drawn. Hence, people can live comfortably with their true selves without having to worry about losing a partner.

Social media encourages people to say what they wouldn’t otherwise say in the physical world primarily because of the anonymity that social media grants them. In your essay, describe the effects of disrespect on social media. Social experts observe that disrespect propels cancel culture and decreases our tolerance of people with differing views. Do you agree with this? Add in other observations you have about mutual respect, or the lack of it, on social media.

Indigenous groups call for recognition and respect for their land and rich cultures. In this prompt, cite the challenges in promoting respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.

For example, how does the government reconcile the need to preserve their traditions with the need to alter practices that negatively impact the environment? Write down what else the government can do to support indigenous groups. One example is ensuring their participation in deliberating their lands’ use to enable them to give free, prior, and informed consent.

Data privacy is a fundamental human right, but our data can be easily harvested through every transaction and activity we make using our phones. This essay discusses the data privacy law in your country or state.

Write about the obligations the law has set for companies to sufficiently safeguard the personal data of their clients. Suppose you want to look at international data privacy standards. In that case, you can explore the General Data Protection Regulation , dissect its seven principles and find out how they play in the data privacy cycle from collection to disposal. 

Respect for Parents Day is celebrated in the US every August 1 to recognize the importance of parents’ roles in their children’s lives and the larger society. Dedicate this essay to celebrating your parents. Share with readers the hard work they do to raise you while handling a job or a business to build your future. Briefly narrate the origins of Respect Your Parents Day and provide tips on how families can best spend this day.  

In the workplace, some bosses abuse their power, overstep their boundaries and forget the basics of respect. How does disrespect affect the motivation and productivity of workers? Mull over this question and try to enumerate the negative impacts of disrespect in the workplace. Then, with the support of research studies, find out what motivational methods managers can employ to reinforce employees positively and help them receive the respect they deserve.

girl, dog, pet-5623231.jpg

Over the years, the call for respect has extended beyond humankind and to the animal kingdom. First, hear the calls of advocacy groups combating the cruel practice of commoditizing animals or their parts for profit. Track how far their efforts have progressed.

You can also look into the International Convention for the Protection of Animals , a proposed treaty to address all animal issues, and research how it has moved forward to fill in the gap of an international agreement to protect animals.

Make sure your essays are clean and understandable with our list of the best essay checkers .

Tip : If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple five-paragraph essay instead.

free essay on respect

Yna Lim is a communications specialist currently focused on policy advocacy. In her eight years of writing, she has been exposed to a variety of topics, including cryptocurrency, web hosting, agriculture, marketing, intellectual property, data privacy and international trade. A former journalist in one of the top business papers in the Philippines, Yna is currently pursuing her master's degree in economics and business.

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113 Respect Essay Titles & Prompts

If you are here, you probably need to write a respect essay. It is a very exciting topic for students of all levels. There are many good respect topics to write about: respect of people, respect of laws, military respect, respect and responsibility, etc. Check the complete list of respect essay titles below

🏆 Best Respect Topic Ideas & Essay Examples

⭐ simple & easy respect essay titles, 📌 most interesting respect topics to write about, 👍 good respect essay titles for students, ❓ questions about respect.

Respect is a term known to everyone since early years. But what it really means to respect? It is essential to separate this word from politeness, love, or other feelings. In simple terms, resect can be defined as a tribute honor and considerations of someone’s emotions, wills, rights, and goals.

In a respect essay, you can discuss mutual respect, forms of respect in different cultures, and other issues. We recommend you first define why it is important to respect each other. Having this question answered, it will be easier to analyze the role of respect in particular situations.

  • Jacques Louis David’s Art with Respect to Question of Gender The most “sound” in the context of “femininity” and “masculinity” are the pictures The Oath of the Horatii, The Death of Socrates and The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Songs and The […]
  • Pharmacy: Advocacy, Integrity, and Respect A pharmacist that does not have integrity would easily give in and sell the drugs to a relative or a friend.
  • Responsibilities of Computer Professionals to Understanding and Protecting the Privacy Rights It is therefore the responsibility of computer professionals to take all the necessary steps that would help preserve the privacy of computer users, some of which have been mentioned in this essay.
  • Plato and Aristotle’s Views of Virtue in Respect to Education Arguably, Plato and Aristotle’s views of education differ in that Aristotle considers education as a ‘virtue by itself’ that every person must obtain in order to have ‘happiness and goodness in life’, while Plato advocates […]
  • Addressing the Disrespect in the Military It is important that every person in the military adhere to the conducts whether in uniform or not. Therefore, issues of disrespect tend to be very minimal in the military.
  • The Importance of respect in the military This paper seeks to discuss the importance of respect in the military. Therefore, respect in the army ensures that the jobs of both the seniors and the subordinates are done.
  • Saint Leo’s Core Value of Respect and Socio-Cultural Impacts on Tourism These factors result to changes in different aspects of the society such as religion, cultural practices and other influential factors like where the society emulate the aspects of the tourists.
  • Respect in a Diverse Workplace This is because employees who lack respect are likely to involve themselves in behaviors that portray lack of respect to both the person and to the contribution made by other employees in an organization.
  • Managing Cultural Diversity: Sustain and Respect Cultural Identities The report concentrates on the discussion on benefits and challenges of cultural diversity, the opportunity cultural diversity offers and provides practical recommendations that can help the management to deal with the multicultural diversity issues effectively.
  • When a Multinational Corporation Should Violate or Respect Local Cultural Norms A multinational following these cultural norms would be respecting local culture because it considers the level of economic development in the country.
  • Respect in Daily Lives The show of respect is very important especially to the adults, as they act as role models to the young children. Without respect, it would be hard to settle such differences, as no one would […]
  • Communication of Respect in Interethnic Service Encounters The woman’s English is perfect, and she seems to be a loyal customer and the one who has developed a certain connection with the cashier.
  • New Respect Is Bestowed on Fiscal Policy The article also explores some of the fiscal policies that have been “used around the world since the 2008 economic crisis”.
  • Feminism and Respect for Culture A crucial gender aspect that continues to trouble the unity of the people across the world is gender bias, which seems to encourage the formation of the feminist campaigns.
  • Respect for Elder’s Wisdom Each of the two elders gave independent versions of socialisation in the Emirati society in the past, and how the society has transformed with the emergence of communication technologies.
  • Respect and Its Significance Respect is thus imperative in any society since a great deal of the collectively desirable quality, virtues and morals which establish human dignity, and give the best out of a person and the society at […]
  • Tolerance and Respect for Cultural Differences The author concludes the essay in the third section by revisiting the thesis statement and highlighting the various approaches used to develop attitudes that promote respect and tolerance.
  • Marketing Research with Respect to Modern Office Suppliers In this paper, the SWOT analysis of Staples and Amazon will be carried out as Modern Office Suppliers is planning to operate in the manner that these two companies operate.
  • Sweatshops and Respect for Persons One of the identified flaws in the logic of the authors is that while they focus on the ethical issues surrounding sweatshops and the responsibility of multinational corporations in providing decent working conditions, Arnold and […]
  • Critical Evaluation of Organisational Learning With Respect to HP Research Labs By the change process HP is able to point out its flaws in the light of literature, various barriers like communication barrier, cultural barrier and the barrier of sharing knowledge among its various centres.
  • Concept in Understanding Contemporary Policy Processes in Europe with Respect to Government and Policies The emergence of MLG where on the one hand has created the need for collective decision making over complex problems which leads to a loss of control for nation-states, on the other have brought the […]
  • Partner Healthcare System INC Case: Competing Interests and Respect After the lapse of a certain period of time, in 1994, the Boards of BWH and MGH accorded their approval to designate the MGH/Brigham Health Care System Inc as to the sole member of the […]
  • Earning Respect From Employess and Superiors The manager can do this by earning the respect of both his staff and superiors. Moreover, a manager can earn respect from his staff if he listens and takes interest in the things happening to […]
  • Why Comedy Gets No Respect The Golden Globe awards, on the other hand, divide the Best Motion Picture category into the sub-categories of drama and musical/comedy, and in that second category, many of the great comedies produced in the past […]
  • Respect, Honor, & Love Children for Their Parents They should never disrespect them or talk to them rudely and calmly listen to whatever they say. Children must always accompany their parents to the temples and worship wholeheartedly in front of the Gods.
  • Social Factors in the US History: Respect for Human Rights, Racial Equality, and Religious Freedom The very first years of the existence of the country were marked by the initiatives of people to provide as much freedom in all aspects of social life as possible.
  • Importance of Bible With Respect to Christian Ministry It also mentions the roles and responsibilities of Christian ministry in the society and in the church, basic requirements to become as a minister etc in the base of New Testament.
  • Free Speech and Mutual Respect on Campus In case the notion of free speech on campus will be misinterpreted and evil ones will use their free speech policy to hurt others, what sad consequences this will lead to?
  • Helping Business Behave Morally With Respect to Consumer Safety The organization should consider factors that affect marketability of the product, such as the costs involved, any warranties, which may be implied on the product and the quality of the product as customers are concerned […]
  • No Respect Given to Military Family The purpose of this essay is to study the impact of the problem of insufficient respect for military families on society and individuals and to find solutions to this issue.
  • Business Obligations With Respect to Environment The analysis focuses on the ethical concerns faced by Virgin Blue Holdings which is one of the major airline company’s in Australia, and how the management deals with these issues within the environmental setup.
  • Respect and Integrity of Company Employees On this note, economy of one’s country or state is bound to grow since new ideas will bring in more innovations that are key to the economic stability. The value of respect is strong and […]
  • How the Courts Address or Respect Our Rights as Citizens The BOARD OF CONTROL OF FLORIDA, A body corporate, No.643. The case began in April 1948 The plaintiff was a black student who had applied to be admitted to the University of Florida’s College of […]
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  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect for Human Dignity in America The purpose of this paper is to evaluate cultural acceptance in the US in connection to respect and provide means of increasing respect for other cultures.
  • Fostering Dignity and Respect in Caring To mitigate this situation, the management of the home care organization should strive to make sure that a patient’s decision is respected and valued.
  • Respect and Self-Respect: Impact on Interpersonal Relationships and Personal Identity It is fundamental to human nature to want to be heard and listened to.indicates that when you listen to what other people say, you show them respect at the basic level.
  • Trust and Respect: “The Effects of Hazing and Sexual Harassment” First, it destroys the public image of the U.S.military and leads to the situation when people associate military service with abuse, humiliation, and the inability to serve their country with dignity.
  • Discussion: Law Enforcement and Respect In the case study, the situation highlights a situation in which Arnold, a homeless drug user, refuses to leave the entrance of a building in a low-income apartment complex without causing disturbances.
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  • The Ideal Vision And Respect For The Human Body
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  • Why Should Our Veterans Be Given Respect?
  • What Role Does Respect Play in Your Relationships With Friends and Family?
  • Should Companies Treat Their Employees With Respect and Treat Each One of Them With Dignity?
  • What Are the Benefits of People Treating Each Other With Respect?
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  • How Did Socrates Feel About the Leaders of Athens? Did He Respect Them?
  • When Was the Last Time You Disrespected Someone?
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  • How Did Joan Didion Define Respect?
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  • How Do You Think Respect Affects Your Community, the World?
  • Who Deserves Respect?
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IvyPanda. (2023, October 26). 113 Respect Essay Titles & Prompts.

"113 Respect Essay Titles & Prompts." IvyPanda , 26 Oct. 2023,

IvyPanda . (2023) '113 Respect Essay Titles & Prompts'. 26 October.

IvyPanda . 2023. "113 Respect Essay Titles & Prompts." October 26, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "113 Respect Essay Titles & Prompts." October 26, 2023.


IvyPanda . "113 Respect Essay Titles & Prompts." October 26, 2023.

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Respect Essay

500+ words respect essay.

Respect is one way of expressing our love and gratitude towards others. It may indeed be the glue that binds people together. If respect is akin to “positive regard”, it is the belief that enables one to value other people, institutions, and traditions. If we want others to give us respect, it is important that we respect them too. Respect is the most powerful ingredient that nourishes all relationships and creates a good society. Students should learn the true meaning of respect. They must understand what respect means with reference to themselves and to other people. This ‘Respect’ essay will help them to do so. Students can also get the list of CBSE Essays on different topics and boost their essay writing skills. Doing so helps them to participate in various essay writing competitions.

Respect Begins with Oneself

Respect is an important component of personal self-identity and interpersonal relationships. We must respect and value ourselves so that the rest of the world recognises us and respect us. Respect is treating others the way we want to be treated. People treat us with the same amount of dignity and respect we show for others. Treating someone with respect means:

  • Showing regard for their abilities and worth
  • Valuing their feelings and their views, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them
  • Accepting them on an equal basis and giving them the same consideration you would expect for yourself.

Respect is the overall esteem we feel towards a person. We can also feel respect for a specific quality of a person. For example, we might not like somebody’s behaviour, but we can respect their honesty.

Importance of Respect

Respect is a lesson that we learn over the years in our life. The ability to treat everyone with respect and equality is an easy trait to learn, but a difficult trait to carry out. Respect is one of the most valuable assets. A respectful person is one who shows care and concern for others. He is courteous, kind, fair, honest and obedient. With respect comes a better and more clear way of life. Respect for others helps to promote empathy and tolerance. It helps in building healthy relationships with family and friends. We feel motivated and happy when we are respected by others.

Ways to Show Respect to Others

Respect is a feeling of care for someone, which can be shown through good manners. There are several ways in which we can show respect to others. We all inculcate the value of respecting others from childhood. Doing namaste when guests come to our home is one way of showing respect to them. It is a gesture of acknowledgement & greeting people. We touch the feet of elders to show respect to them. We must take permission before using another person’s property. Teasing, threatening, or making fun of others can hurt them. So, we should respect others’ feelings and should not do anything that hurts them.

Respect is learned, earned, and returned. If we expect respect, then be the first to show it!

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Essay on Respect (for Students in 1000 Words)

Essay on Respect (for Students in 1000 Words)

On this page, you will read an Essay on Respect for Students in 1000 Words with some quotes or sayings to understand its importance in life.

So let’s Start this Essay on Respect for School and College Students …

Table of Contents

Introduction (Essay on Respect in 1000 Words)

Respect is an abstract concept that is a charge of competence and prestige that affects both the social level and self-assessment of an individual or institution such as a family, school, regiment or nation. Accordingly, individuals (or institutions) are given value and stature based on the harmony of specific tasks.

Concerning sexuality, honour has traditionally been associated with “purity” or “virginity” or, in case of married men/women, “loyalty”. The importance of the concept of respect has declined in the modern world and has been replaced by conscience. As a noun, honour can also refer to an award. For example, given by a nation; such honours include military medals, but more generally it means civilian awards, such as Padma Shri, knighthood or Pakistani Nishan-e-Pakistan.

Also read: Speech on Discipline for Students

Few sayings about respect

Below are some few quotes which tell us importance of respect-

  • Only when you respect yourself will others respect you.
  • Respect for all living beings is non-violence.
  • It is better to drink the nectar of humiliation than to drink the poison of honour.
  • If earning increases by losing respect, then poverty is better than that.
  • Protecting self-respect is our first religion.

Importance of Respect in Life

A. for value in society.

A person who is not respected in society has no value in society. Everyone tries to stay away from him. Nobody helps in that man’s time of strength. He spends his life apart from the whole world, and it is also true that a person takes a lot of time to increase his respect in society and it does not take even 1 minute to finish that honour. It is easy to earn money in the world, but it takes a lot of time to make respect in the eyes of people.

b. For Developing the own personality

When you give respect to someone, it reflects your vastness. The more people you do not respect in the world, the less is your prosperity. If you appreciate everyone, the more you will get. He is a learned man who respects all. Giving respect is the quality of advanced consciousness. Therefore, I thank all of you.

c. For Life

Respect is essential in our life because just as money is required in life, so it is necessary to respect life. It is challenging to live in a society without respect; a person who does not have a connection in the community has no value in society. Does not happen, every person tries to stay away from it, no one helps in that man’s time of compulsion, he lives his life apart from the whole world.

This statement is also true that it takes a lot of time for a person to increase their respect in society and it does not take even 1 minute to finish that honour. It is easy to earn money in the world, but it takes a lot of time to make respect in the eyes of people.

Reflection of Respect

The importance is revealed only by the actions and behaviour done by human beings, that is, according to the importance of work, human beings are considered essential. By evaluating the significance of a person’s work and behaviour, his feelings and social thoughts towards him are called his respect.

The goal of most humans is to get maximum respect, subject to which their thinking and their work is done. The cooperation of man in travelling from the ancient to the present modern era is a symbol of the greatness of man. Just as the importance of works is different according to practice, similarly, there are many forms of respect.

Encouragement increases in doing work due to respect

Those who want to honour themselves only by showing off instead of doing any good work for human society and humanity; they are misguided humans of confused intellect. Those who want to get respect in society by showing off their belongings and resources and showing off their property, house, vehicle, etc. and declaring themselves as rich.

Honesty Showing due to respect

The person desiring to be respected must first learn to respect himself for which he will have to look into his conscience and if he is a fraudulent, deceitful, dishonest or a liar, then how will he honour him because he lies to the human world. Still, it is impossible to rest with your mind.

Respect Improves in conduct and nature

When a person is guilty and cannot even respect himself, it is foolish to wish for respect from society and the world. Respect is the subject of human behaviour, conduct, and deeds, so forgetting respect, it is necessary first to review their behaviour and deeds and improve them first, change you then only the world will change.

Self-respect means that self-respect separates humans from animals. It is due to this feeling that a person feels superior. In Indian culture and our past, this sentiment was filled with the code. But in a dark period, the people of India not only lost their self-respect but also destroyed their self-confidence. The rule of foreign invaders gave rise to inferiority complex among Indians

Woman’s honour

Woman- lives in the forms of a mother, sister, daughter, and wife. A human is a woman who makes connections with society. But unfortunately, by not giving due respect to this world leader, he has tried to subdue himself from the beginning. He considers the form of the goddess as a symbol of the goddess. Her honour has the potential to change the whole world.  

In conclusion, it can be stated that respect is a capital that can earn only by creating goodwill in society by doing good deeds with honesty and respecting others also. God creates everybody in the world, and all have their importance and value. So each other respect is fundamental and necessary.

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Essays on Respect

Faq about respect.

Essay on Respect 500+ Words

Respect is a powerful word, and it carries an even more powerful message. It’s something we should all strive to practice in our daily lives. In this essay, we will explore the importance of respect, why it matters so much, and how it can make the world a better place.

Thesis Statement : Respect is the key to building strong relationships, fostering harmony, and creating communities where everyone feels valued.

The Definition of Respect

To begin our journey into understanding respect, let’s define what it means. Respect is about treating others the way we want to be treated. It’s showing kindness, consideration, and admiration for people and their feelings. It’s understanding that every person is unique and deserving of dignity and fair treatment.

Respect in Daily Life

Respect isn’t just a big word; it’s something we encounter in our daily lives:

  • At Home: We respect our parents, siblings, and elders by listening to them and considering their feelings.
  • At School: We respect our teachers and classmates by following rules and being polite.
  • In Our Communities: We respect our neighbors by being good citizens and helping when needed.

The Power of Respect in Relationships

Respect is like glue that holds relationships together:

  • Friends: Respect builds trust. When we respect our friends’ thoughts and feelings, we create strong, lasting friendships.
  • Family: In families, respect helps us avoid conflicts and understand each other better. It’s like a magic bond that keeps us close.
  • Teachers and Students: Respect in the classroom creates a positive learning environment. When teachers respect students and vice versa, everyone benefits.

The Ripple Effect of Respect

Respect doesn’t stop at the individual level; it has a ripple effect on society:

  • Communities: When people in a community respect each other, it becomes a safer and happier place to live. People help each other and work together.
  • Schools: Respectful classrooms are more peaceful and productive. Students feel safe to express their ideas, and teachers can teach effectively.
  • Nations: On a larger scale, countries that respect each other’s differences are more likely to have peaceful relationships and cooperate in solving global problems.

Respect for Differences

One of the most beautiful aspects of respect is its ability to bridge differences:

  • Cultural Respect: Our world is full of diverse cultures. By respecting and learning about different cultures, we promote understanding and reduce prejudice.
  • Religious Respect: People have various beliefs and religions. Respecting each person’s faith or belief system fosters harmony.
  • Respect for Abilities: Some people may have different abilities or disabilities. Treating everyone with respect means valuing each person for who they are, regardless of their abilities.

Respect for the Environment

Respect goes beyond human interactions; it extends to our planet:

  • Nature: Respecting nature means taking care of our environment. We should protect forests, oceans, and animals for future generations.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Respecting the Earth involves reducing waste, reusing items, and recycling to keep our world clean and sustainable.

Famous Voices on Respect

Many famous people have shared their wisdom about respect:

  • Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” This means that by showing respect, we inspire others to do the same.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This is a powerful message about respecting differences.

Respect Challenges and Solutions

While respect is vital, there can be challenges in practicing it:

  • Bullying: Bullying is a lack of respect for others. Schools and communities are working together to prevent bullying through education and support.
  • Internet Respect: Online, people sometimes forget to be respectful. We can combat this by promoting online etiquette and kindness.

Becoming a Respectful Person

So, how can we become more respectful?

  • Listen: Listening is a big part of respect. When we listen to others, we show that we value their thoughts and feelings.
  • Empathy: Try to understand how others feel. Imagine being in their shoes. This helps us be more considerate.
  • Golden Rule: Follow the Golden Rule, which says, “Treat others as you want to be treated.”

Conclusion of Essay on Respect

In conclusion, respect is the key to building stronger bonds, fostering harmony, and creating better communities. It’s not just a word; it’s a way of life. Respect starts with each one of us, and when we practice it, we make the world a kinder, more understanding, and more peaceful place. Let us remember that respect is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength, and it has the power to change lives and make the world a better place for all.

Also Check: List of 500+ Topics for Writing Essay

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The Significance of Respect in a Relationship

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Published: Sep 1, 2023

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    Furthermore, the importance of respect in relationships extends to the emotional well-being of the individuals involved. Feeling respected by a partner or loved one nurtures a sense of security and self-worth. It contributes to a positive self-image and fosters emotional resilience. In a respectful relationship, individuals can be vulnerable ...