These three problems are pressing problems for any IHD claim precisely because the concept must claim to transcend these conditioning aspects of our normative practices. What follows is a description of an IHD’s form, content, and normative uses and an initial comparison with competing characterizations. Beyond this, human dignity might well inspire more productive and precise regulatory practices, be they related to global, social or procedural justice. It also concerns the dignity of non-enhanced human beings, whether it is threatened by the increased capacity of enhanced beings. These practices emerge or have their existence in society and as such require attention by politics and law—not only by philosophical ethics. That is to say, to protect a capability for one agent may require different or more resources than protecting it in someone else (Boylan 2004). About Human Dignity and the Foundations of International Law . Understood as interstitial concepts, human dignity and the rule of law are intended precisely to express the importance of links between politics and law and the co-regulation of the two. This is the case at the level of doctrinal analysis of human dignity, and there is important jurisprudence arising in particular from the European Court of Human Rights and from constitutions including those of Germany, South Africa and Hungary. One further upshot of this approach would be that those things to be secured or provided might, in view of this principle, differ between persons as well as between contexts. If you think you should have access to this content, click the button to contact our support team. Nordenfelt, L. (2004) ‘The varieties of dignity’, O’Malley, M. J. This dignity can come and go as a result of the deeds of fellow human beings and also as a result of changes in the subject's body and mind.4) Menschenwurde is the universal dignity that pertains to all human beings to the same extent and cannot be lost as long as the person exists. It is argued here that a focal concept of human dignity can be reconstructed and that this concept provides the most illuminating perspective from which to view human dignity’s range of conceptions and uses. View author archive; Get author RSS feed; November 30, 2020 | 09:05pm. For related reasons it is not clear if human dignity should be a named, explicit norm within a constitution. Further complexity arises from strong species-based claims or discussions of transhumanism that are focused on potential changes in the ontology of humanity. There is no doubt that an IHD concept finds its most important expression in post-World War Two international law and constitutional instruments (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Twin Covenants, and others). The ‘dignity of Man’ as emblematic of political emancipatory projects finds its first major expression during this revolutionary period, and it allowed the articulation of new emancipatory projects as in Wollstonecraft’s appeal to the equal dignity of men and women (1982). Rather, the relative elevation of a human being is conceived in terms of his distinctive human capacities that, given some teleological or religious background assumptions, entail for him a duty to exercise these. The genealogy of the concept has been traced, tendentiously, through the whole history of Western, and sometimes non-Western, philosophical thought; such genealogies are not always illuminating at a conceptual level. (2011) ‘Human dignity violated: a negative approach–introduction’, in Kaufmann, P., Kuch, H., Neuhäuser, C., & Webster, E. (eds). In these respects, attempts to reconstruct non-Western traditional views on dignity should be especially sensitive not only to distinctions between status, value and principle, but particularly to the formal as well as substantive specifications of the significance of humanity in these traditions (Donnelly, 2009). At the same time, international and domestic legal institutions exercise a conditioning force on the discourse of human dignity. In all interactions between state and individual, claim rights (expressible as human rights) can and should be exercised by all human persons, and the exercise of those rights would not be conditioned by any jurisdictional boundaries. If there could be a theory of human dignity, one of its desiderata would be to show what (if anything) these senses of human dignity have in common and how they hang together (if they do). First, as argued by James Griffin, human dignity acts as the foundation of human rights and gives rise to a large range of rights related to personhood and agency; nevertheless, the menu of human rights potentially generated by human dignity must be reduced or rationalized given the equal importance of legal institutions in national legal systems as a source of settled norms and practices (Griffin 2008). Intrinsic dignity, on the other hand, requires no effort on the part of the dignity bearer and it cannot be lost. As such, his dignity may not entail any or all duties that others have to him, such as to respect or even support him. Nevertheless, this is a demand for a far more substantial explication of human rights, institutions, and good—that is, human dignity preserving—interaction between law, morality and politics in practice. 6 No. A brief history of human dignity. Note that claiming a distinctive significance for human beings does not necessarily amount to prioritizing human beings over animals. Human dignity can denote the special elevation of the human species, the special potentiality associated with rational humanity, or the basic entitlements of each individual. The second question, by contrast, leaves open the possibility that human beings and nonhuman animals have potentially incommensurable significances (Korsgaard, 2013; Nussbaum, 2006; Balzer, Rippe and Schaber, 2000; Kaldewaij, 2013). At the regional and domestic levels the normative implications of human dignity become more precise. There is, in other words, something of a mismatch between the putative function of the concept and its actual potential. Second, the cosmopolitan understanding of human dignity faces the general vulnerability of all cosmopolitan philosophies (the priority of local and natural attachments in our moral thinking) and a specific attack via the problem of statelessness. Kant’s dignity of rational choice accords no respect to what we do out of love; to be human is to be rational and willful, but not at all erotic. Second, legal systems require normative precision, and positive law invoking human dignity often appears to fall short of that precision; this has meant that jurists have favored conceptualizing and operationalizing human dignity through an association with degradation (Kaufmann et al, 2011). In this paper, my primary aim will be to address another type of uncertainty, namely uncertainty about the role, function or status within legal frameworks of the ‘dignity norm’ – the norm requiring respect for human dignity. First, the idea of form allows us to distinguish the IHD from other uses of ‘dignity.’ Human dignity in international law is associated with a cluster of closely related, but distinguishable, formal characteristics. In Modern Constitutions: Christian Starck. Human life is sacred because the human person is the most central and clearest reflection of God among us. That means that even if we accepted that individual consent could justify taking human life, it is not necessarily sufficient to ensure human dignity is not being violated. In fact, it is this potential to bridge different fields of regulation—human rights, bioethics, humanitarian law, equality law and others—that we might take to be the most important function of human dignity in international law. Slightly differently, human dignity could be treated as providing a conception of good politics and implying practical side-constraint within political systems. In the light of that and related concerns, Margalit (2009) and others use human dignity to stress the importance of retaining dignity qua self-respect within political and social practices. These kinds of tensions are explored by Stephanie Hennette-Vauchez (2011), who insists on the coexistence of a human dignity principle, which is in essence a principle of equality, and an older (ancient) notion which is closer to a hierarchical notion of honor and permits the enforcement of certain norms related to self-respect. Clearly, however, this is not without problems. Common uses of human dignity in healthcare and medical ethics that treat human dignity as one amongst many ‘middle-level principles,’ or bioethical readings that treat human dignity as synonymous with sanctity, would be non-standard readings on these assumptions and intelligible only as idiosyncratic local uses. It is also the focus of the US constitutional deployment of human dignity as an interpretive tool in Eighth Amendment jurisprudence (concerning “cruel and unusual punishment”). However, this should give rise to important hermeneutical and conceptual hesitations. Third, we can assume that law now has two very different concepts at work, one ancient and honor-based and the second closer to the IHD. (2014) ‘Hinduism: the universal self in a class society’, in. The sum of this jurisprudential thought is a mixture of general thinking about the foundation of constitutional rights alongside specific focus on the prohibition of degradation and objectification. This has meant direct attacks on ‘liberal’ practices, including human rights, by communitarian theorists. A brief history of human dignity. However, it can be argued that the possibility of an interstitial concept nevertheless has support within the fields. The merit of this association with degradation is to give human dignity a clearer normative implication: the absolute impermissibility of certain kinds of gross mistreatment of the individual. For Kant, the person is fundamentally distinct from the human animal—the whole biological being—whom we actually know and love. Conversely, it is difficult to reconcile this restrictive, prohibitive reading with the assumption that human dignity is broad and foundational. The IHD, to the extent that it is a recognizable component of political thinking, might be assumed to be closer to conceptions of politics focused on the rule of law rather than a substantive conception of the good. The essay proposes a three-pronged reform of international human rights: (1) a shift from Western human rights to the more inclusive and pluralist notion of human Importantly, to respect human dignity we must have respect for both the human dignity of each individual and for the worth of humanity as a whole. Even in this sketch it is clear that the normative fields of law, ethics, and politics are not intended to be absolutely divided but rather guided and judged by their consistency with the protection of human rights. There are nevertheless resources in Arendt’s work that are clearly sympathetic to human dignity and human rights as more expansive commitments, and human dignity could be seen as the best expression of that view of human dignity as opposition to atrocity and defensive of human status and human plurality (Menke 2014). To have dignity meant a person held a privileged position in society over others. He has initial dignity as subject to such a moral scheme, in particular by virtue of his capacity and correlated duty to live up to it. Second, the IHD seems an ideal candidate for a kind of Grundnorm or secondary rule in law: a norm giving validity to legal systems as a whole or a principle governing the application of all norms within a system. Human dignity can denote the special elevation of the human species, the special potentiality associated with rational humanity, or the basic entitlements of each individual. Catholic Social Teaching states that each and every person has value, are worthy of great respect and must be free from slavery, manipulation and exploitation. Often, however, we see that problems are addressed without explicit recourse to an IHD, let alone via an integral assessment in terms of the philosophical commitments that come with such an IHD. In those accounts that make ethics clearly foundational to politics, human dignity could be conceived as a regulative idea, providing the trajectory of politics but not necessarily central to its practice. While the European Court of Human Rights takes from international law the assumption that human dignity is foundational, it has operationalized it within its jurisprudence as an interpretive tool generally, and with particular reference to the idea of “torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.” This association between human dignity and the worst forms of degradation and objectification is shared with international humanitarian law and with German constitutional thinking. As a consequence, the normative use of any IHD concept is undoubtedly conditioned by liberal assumptions concerning the proper scope of legislation. On the other hand, liberal institutions that intended to preserve the basic status of the individual have been held to be inadequate to maintain the conditions of the possibility of ethical life. There would remain, however, an important but complex line of enquiry concerning how human dignity and self-regarding duties should be thought to interact. The foregoing analysis stressed the problems of using human dignity in philosophical and ethical thought. https://doi.org/10.1108/14717794200500004. Hennette-Vauchez, S. (2011) ‘A human dignitas? Conceptualizing human dignity as foundational is sometimes construed as bonding the existing body of human rights law with a moral claim that guarantees their force as moral, not just positive, rights. And the function of an interstitial concept is to link and justify different normative fields, not to directly govern them through one explicit Grundnorm. What is human dignity? Human dignity as a philosophical concept. Put another way, one necessary condition for a defensible, foundational account of human rights is that their foundational principle must have an interstitial function straddling these fields of normative practice. It might be that this represents a manifestation of the IHD concept in that the idea is intended to have application across different systems and also be extended to other, new forms of moral and political challenges. It is connected, variously, to ideas of sanctity, autonomy, personhood, flourishing, and self-respect, and human dignity produces, at different times, strict prohibitions and empowerment of the individual. What unites these latter positions is concern about the insensitivity of human dignity relative to pressing political problems including colonialism and minority rights, along with more fundamental concerns about the emptiness of the concept relative to collective interests that cannot be disaggregated into individual interests. This concept is, then, enormously demanding insofar as its fulfillment would not be discharged on the basis of respecting a single norm (be it a Grundnorm or an anti-atrocity norm) but would, rather, demand an ongoing commitment to subject every executive and administrative decision to scrutiny on the basis of its consonance with the content and implications of human dignity particularly as this is expressed through human rights. (2013, 283). First, different jurisdictions and institutions have given such radically different functions to human dignity that it is not always clear that one concept, the IHD, is at work. A value, by contrast, sets human dignity as something to sustain or promote. Human Dignity as a Constitutional Value: Arthur Chaskalson. Dignity’s Unusual History. Utrecht University Conceptions of human dignity go back a very long way. A ‘dignitarian alliance’ of conservative thinkers and activists has deployed a notion of dignity close to that of sanctity in order to oppose or constrain reproductive and biotechnological innovations (Brownsword 2003). That standard is, potentially, related to material sufficiency or to flourishing and could be seen, to that extent, to have an aspiration to being interstitial. As Beitz insists, these implications raise related questions: human dignity seem to apply (differently) at two distinct levels of thought about human rights—as a feature of a public system of norms and as a more specific value that explains why certain ways of treating people are (almost?) The first, “human dignity” was linked to being a person and the second, “dignity as a quality” was comprised of three main characteristics: 1. composure and restraint, 2. distinctness and invulnerability, 3. serenity with power of self-assertion which is not limited to people as it could also apply to animals, landscapes and even works of art (Bostrom, 2008; Holmerova et al., 2007). always impermissible. By extension, this concept of human dignity is the concept we should treat as the foundation of human rights because any reconstruction of the complex menu of human rights in international law has to take account of their wide-ranging implications for legal, moral and political governance. These two questions are ambiguous and the relation between them is far from clear. Also, when possibilities of securing agency are scarce in a community, priority should be given to capabilities at the core of agency. Consider, for instance, Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) (“everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity”). The concept of human dignity as it appeared in post-war international law was undoubtedly intended to mark a decisive political, not just legal, turning-point. When we speak of Human Dignity, we do Such a ‘community of rights’ is quite directly committed to an interstitial notion of human dignity cashed-out as both basic human rights and systems for preserving freedom and welfare across all normative systems (Gewirth 1998). We begin with an extended methodological and conceptual exploration, asking what should be taken as primary in examining human dignity. First, little is added to our understanding of Rawls’s work by associating it with human dignity, and conversely the distinctive conceptual characteristics of human dignity are immediately lost in more general debates about liberal political theory. (2013) ‘Is dignity the foundation of human rights?’. The differences concern not only questions about the nature of the subject of human dignity—a species, humanity or the human person—but also what is significant in him. There are a number of proposed normative and conceptual solutions to this tension, though it is not obvious how we might adjudicate between them. It could be expressed in more sociological terms as a defense of functional differentiation, the coexistence of different social systems that an individual can move between. This would touch on the issue of universality, unconditionality, alienability and overridingness. There are many species of this kind of dignity and it is very unevenly distributed among human beings. Netherlands, The Credibility of an Interstitial Concept, The Implications of an Interstitial Concept. Nevertheless, there are good reasons why such a far-reaching concept should be primary in our thinking, and for this reason human dignity is likely to remain a component of normative discourse despite its problematic characteristics. Here the worry not only concerns the dignity of the enhanced individual, whether it is violated or enhanced, but also the dignity of humanity as such: whether humanity is compromised by these interferences. What human dignity amounts to is an expression of the foundations of any and all of our normative practices and the demand that human rights and human dignity have a constitutive and not just regulative role in our social institutions and practices. Put more modestly, the idea of politics as an anomic practice is difficult to defend—after all, law and politics stand in a relation of productive co-constitution with politics making law and legal systems revising the content of that law and regulating political practices themselves—and our best reconstructions of the foundations of political practices and institutions are likely to involve commitment to the kinds of formal assumptions associated with human dignity (Rawls 2009; Habermas 2010). The normative significance view has found expressions in at least three ways: as a status (Habermas, 2010; Waldron and Dan-Cohen, 2012), a value (Rosen, 2012; Sulmasy, 2007) or a principle (Düwell, 2014). It is used to emphasize the value a person attaches to himself, the extent to which he respects himself (Dillon, 2013). Note that these formal criteria are not treated as necessary conditions for human dignity but are, rather, claims commonly associated with human dignity in international law. R. EASON AND . The Religious and Philosophical Background of Human Dignity and its Place. Sociological shifts are also crucial in understanding the competing functions of human dignity in political discourse. Certain historical and sociological trends are important for understanding human dignity and its role in politics. Indeed more substantive and perfectionist notions are often in evidence in national legal settings. Any conceivable defense of an IHD concept—one that, by definition, sits between and links different normative practices—faces the immediate problem of the conditioning assumptions of those disciplines and practices (including the local practices and settled dispositions and attitudes of those working within the fields). Efforts to synthesize aspects of pluralism with such accounts of the good have informed a capabilities approach intended to encompass both a substantial conception of the individual and the protections of agency and individuality characteristic of liberal thought. Moreover, for Kant, dignity as an end in ourselves is what sets us above and to some degree outside of the world around us, which is defined by causal relations in which objects interact with one another according to a predefined script. Crucial conceptual and methodological questions arise from the outset regarding whether human dignity can be reconstructed as one concept or must be treated as several concepts. Rather, ‘human dignity’ might encompass historically different, and antagonistic, ideas. Over the course of four years studying high school history, my students encounter the full vista of human history and the richness of the Western tradition. It is worth briefly contrasting how we might approach the analysis of human dignity with that of human rights. It is where law, ethics, and politics meet and are practically and critically interrelated.
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