Social dignity for marginalized people in public healthcare: an interpretive review and building blocks for a non-ideal theory

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 24 (1):85-97 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Jacobson finds two distinct meanings of “dignity” in the literature on dignity and health: intrinsic human dignity and social dignity constituted through interactions with caregivers. Especially the latter has been central in empirical health research and warrants further exploration. This article focuses on the social dignity of people marginalized by mental illness, substance abuse and comparable conditions in extramural settings. 35 studies published between 2007 and 2017 have addressed this issue, most of them identifying norms for social dignity: civilized interactions, non-stigmatizing treatment, treatment as unique individuals, being taken seriously, maintaining a positive identity, experiencing independence, relating to others, and participating in daily life. We argue that these norms belong to ideal theory, whereas we agree with Robeyns and others that improving practice is better served by non-ideal theory. Towards this end, we derive from the literature four building blocks for a non-ideal theory of dignity: avoid violations of dignity rather than seeking to promote it; dignity is not a goal to be reached; it requires ongoing effort; promoting dignity is a balancing act; contradictory norms can make it impossible to realize; and dignity can be undermined by organizational and discursive constraints.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,202

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Dignity promotion and beneficence.Diego S. Silva - 2010 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 7 (4):365-372.
Practical Dignity in Caring.Leila Shotton & David Seedhouse - 1998 - Nursing Ethics 5 (3):246-255.
Practical Dignity in Caring.L. H. Toiviainen & D. Seedhouse - 1998 - Nursing Ethics 5 (3):246-255.
Personhood and human dignity.David Kirchhoffer - 2015 - In Jãnis T. Ozoliņš & Joanne Grainger (eds.), Foundations of Healthcare Ethics: Theory to Practice. Cambridge:
Dignity: personal, social, human.Suzy Killmister - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (8):2063-2082.
Dignity, Torture, and Human Rights.Suzy Killmister - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5):1087-1101.
Death with dignity from the Confucian perspective.Yaming Li & Jianhui Li - 2017 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (1):63-81.
Rethinking the principle of authority.Alon Harel - 2020 - Jurisprudence 11 (2):243-247.
Making sense of dignity.Richard Ashcroft - 2005 - Journal of Medical Ethics 31 (11):679-682.
Human dignity as a right.Shaoping Gan - 2009 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):370-384.
Dignity, Honour, and Human Rights: Kant's Perspective.Rachel Bayefsky - 2013 - Political Theory 41 (6):0090591713499762.
Reflections on the function of dignity in the context of caring for old people.George J. Agich - 2007 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 32 (5):483 – 494.
Capability without dignity?Joseph J. Fischel & Claire McKinney - 2020 - Contemporary Political Theory 19 (3):404-429.


Added to PP

10 (#1,129,009)

6 months
5 (#544,079)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?