Human dignity in historical perspective: The contemporary and traditional paradigms

European Journal of Political Theory 10 (1):71-91 (2011)
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Abstract

Over the last 60 years the idea of human dignity has become increasingly prominent in the political discourse on human rights. In United Nations documents, for instance, human dignity is currently presented as the justification for human rights. In this paper I shall argue that the contemporary way in which human dignity is thought to ground human rights is very different from the way human dignity has been understood traditionally. My aim is to contrast the contemporary paradigm of dignity to a different one that has been prominent historically from Cicero onwards. My conclusion is that if one wants to use the contemporary conception of dignity, one cannot refer to the history of philosophy for support of this conception, and if one wants to use this history in support, one would have to employ a different conception of dignity that uses a different pattern of thought

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Oliver Sensen
Tulane University

References found in this work

Kant on Duties Regarding Nonrational Nature.Allen W. Wood - 1998 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72 (1):189–210.
I_– _Allen W. Wood.Allen W. Wood - 1998 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72 (1):189-210.
I_– _Allen W. Wood.Allen W. Wood - 1998 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72 (1):189-210.
Kant and Greek Ethics (II.).Klaus Reich - 1939 - Mind 48 (192):446-463.

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