Is the meaning of “human dignity” dependent on metaphysical and theological premisses? The author′s answer to this question is based on the thesis that metaphysics and theology are not primary sources of the idea of human dignity, but that they have additional relevance in understanding and promoting human dignity. For the world wide consensus that fundamental human rights have to be protected is based – at a first level – on the practical evidence that human life cannot be lived if some basic claims are not safeguarded. This practical evidence which is implied in the self-experience of the subject – acting and suffering in the first person singular – has at its core the ultimate practical judgment that human life as a self-related and self-determined practice has to be considered as an end in itself. Based on this practical evidence – at a second level – an ethical reflexion shows that every human being as a human being has not only a value which can be replaced by other values, but an unretrievable dignity because of this form of life, i. e. with the nature of a moral agent. From this practical evidence and its ethical evaluation – at a third level – metaphysical conclusions can be drawn, e. g. that human beings have a nature to which the faculty of reason belongs substantially or that human beings as subjects are part of an intelligible word . The viewpoint of a faith-based theology presupposes the practical evidence with which human beings experience themselves as subjects, but gives to the recognition of the human dignity an additional critical, hermeneutical and motivational force.
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DOI 10.1524/dzph.2009.0023
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