Three Crucial Turns on the Road to an Adequate Understanding of Human Dignity

In Paulus Kaufmann, Hannes Kuch, Christian Neuhaeuser & Elaine Webster (eds.), Humiliation, Degradation, Dehumanization. Human Dignity Violated. Springer Verlag. pp. 7-17 (2010)
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Human dignity is one of the key concepts of our ethical evaluations, in politics, in biomedicine, as well as in everyday life. In moral philosophy, however, human dignity is a source of intractable trouble. It has a number of characteristic features which apparently do not fit into one coherent ethical concept. Hence, philosophers tend to ignore or circumvent the concept. There is hope for a philosophically attractive conception of human dignity, however, given that one takes three crucial turns. The negative turn: to start the inquiry with violations of human dignity. The inductive turn: to consider the whole range of applications of the concept of human dignity in different areas of ethics. And finally, the historical turn: to take into account the historical bonds between human dignity and traditional conceptions of dignity. Taken together they point in the direction of an understanding of human dignity as universal nobility.



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Ralf Stoecker
Bielefeld University

Citations of this work

Of Ducks and Men.Ralf Stoecker - 2015 - In Ralf Stoecker & Marco Iorio (eds.), Actions, Reasons and Reason. Boston: De Gruyter. pp. 99-108.
Natural Good Theories and the Value of Human Dignity.Sebastian Muders - 2016 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 25 (2):239-249.

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Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.

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