Human Dignity: Final, Inherent, Absolute?

Rivista di Estetica 75:84-103 (2020)
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In the traditional understanding, human dignity is often portrayed as a «final», «inherent», and «absolute» value. If human dignity as the core of the status of a human being did indeed have thos characteristics, this would yield a severe limitation for obligations that stem from the moral status of non-human animals, plants, eco systems and other entities discussed in environmental ethics; for obligations that arise from human dignity standardly take priority over the duties toward entities with non-human moral status. Yet, many theorists of human dignity nowadays have given up the traditional picture in favour of a more «contingent» understanding of human dignity that abandons one or more of its traditional characteristics.In this paper, I argue that to the contrary, we have good reasons to think that the three characteristics of human dignity just mentioned can indeed be attributed to a value that deserves the name «human dignity». In a first part, I argue for a specific understanding of the three value characteristics under consideration. After these preliminaries, I show in a second part that given such an understanding, we have ample evidence that we can indeed say that human dignity is an inherent, absolute and final value; and also that these three characteristics are properties of a single value.



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Dignity: Its History and Meaning.Michael Rosen - 2012 - Harvard University Press.
Are there any absolute rights?Alan Gewirth - 1981 - Philosophical Quarterly 31 (122):1-16.
Kann man die Achtung der Menschenwürde als Prinzip der normativen Ethik retten?Bernward Gesang - 2010 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 64 (4):474-497.

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