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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Self-respect is central to many liberal accounts of social justice, as it is necessary for individuals to effectively pursue their plans of life. In particular, extant work on self-respect has focused on its social bases—that is, how social norms can shape the opportunities people have for developing and maintaining a sense of self-respect. However, much of this work overlooks the role information technology plays in such social processes. Given its pervasiveness—from search engines to automated facial and body scanners—and impact on people’s lives, scholars ought to pay closer attention to the ways human identity and dignity are not only socially, but also sociotechnically informed. To that end, this chapter recovers and expands on John Rawls’ “social bases of self-respect” to introduce the idea of the “sociotechnical bases of self-respect” to better account for the place of information technology in shaping possibilities for the development of individuals’ dignity.

Keywords: Rawls, self-respect, dignity, justice, information technology, identity, privacy, surveillance

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