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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 14 October 2019

Dignity Rather than Rights

Dignity Rather than Rights

Chapter:
(p.189) 10 Dignity Rather than Rights
Source:
Understanding Human Dignity
Author(s):

John Milbank

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.003.0010

This chapter argues that the yoking together of ‘dignity’ and ‘rights’ is unstable, reflecting the ongoing incompatibility of respectively the liberal and the Catholic traditions of human rights. Both traditions adopt an ‘internal’ and ‘external’ understanding of dignity. The liberal tradition aporetically focuses on subjective right and on circumstances of convenience or pleasure. The Catholic tradition reconciled the ancient but uneasy melding of ‘dignity’ as ‘internal’ reserve and as ‘external’ work or social exchange through reference to persona—the adoption of a role in relationship to God. This discourse of ‘dignity’ is perpetuated in Catholic social teaching. The chapter finally suggests the Catholic tradition must continue, through its blend of corporatism and personalism, to emphasize both hierarchy and social role, contrary to the liberal tradition, as central to the dignity of persons.

Keywords:   dignity, right, virtue, liberalism, Catholicism, grace, value, honour

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