Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):323 - 335 (2012)

Authors
Doris Schroeder
University of Central Lancashire
Abstract
Why should all human beings have certain rights simply by virtue of being human? One justification is an appeal to religious authority. However, in increasingly secular societies this approach has its limits. An alternative answer is that human rights are justified through human dignity. This paper argues that human rights and human dignity are better separated for three reasons. First, the justification paradox: the concept of human dignity does not solve the justification problem for human rights but rather aggravates it in secular societies. Second, the Kantian cul-de-sac: if human rights were based on Kant's concept of dignity rather than theist grounds, such rights would lose their universal validity. Third, hazard by association: human dignity is nowadays more controversial than the concept of human rights, especially given unresolved tensions between aspirational dignity and inviolable dignity. In conclusion, proponents of universal human rights will fare better with alternative frameworks to justify human rights rather than relying on the concept of dignity
Keywords Dignity  Human rights  Kant
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9326-3
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References found in this work BETA

On Human Rights.James Griffin - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785/2002 - Oxford University Press.
Kant’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.
Women and Human Development.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2003 - Mind 112 (446):372-375.

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Citations of this work BETA

Dignity and Dissent in Humans and Non-humans.Andreas Matthias - forthcoming - Science and Engineering Ethics:1-14.
Human Rights in Bioethics–Theoretical and Applied.John-Stewart Gordon - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):283 - 294.
Human Rights and Human Dignity: A Reply to Doris Schroeder. [REVIEW]Peter Schaber - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (1):155-161.

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