Respect as a Justification for Policy [pdf]

The role of black and minority ethnic Britons has not figured deeply enough in the respect agenda. While it is of course important that government ensures that discrimination is outlawed - and indeed the government has made progress towards that goal - black and minority ethnic people (and indeed other disadvantaged groups) may be better served by being more centrally engaged in important policy debates.

The report first considers the philosophical discussion on respect, especially two influential distinctions between different conceptions of respect. While philosophical argument cannot usually lead directly to specific policy proposals, the distinctions provided in the second section explain how and why respect can respond to the needs of BME people, especially by highlighting the importance of social justice for protecting human dignity. They also provide the parameters for how to think about respect as a justification for policies more broadly, including those under the heading of 'anti-social behaviour'.

In the third section we address these and related issues, focusing on the government's 'Respect Action Plan'. Then in section four we turn to how repsect could be more expanisvely understood to develop fair and effective policy, especially for black and minority ethnic groups. Commitment to a race equality agenda reveals why respect should be more emphatically linked to social justice and indeed a culture of human rights.

The final section provides a more general framework for thinking about how respect should guide policy, namely by protecting recognition respect, fostering civic virtues, and ensuring the social bases of self-respect. This enhanced respect agenda could provide fairer and more effective policies not just for BME Britons, but for all citizens.

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