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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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The Good Sense of Dignity: Six Antidotes to Dignity Fatigue in Ethics and Law

The Good Sense of Dignity: Six Antidotes to Dignity Fatigue in Ethics and Law

(p.593) 35 The Good Sense of Dignity: Six Antidotes to Dignity Fatigue in Ethics and Law
Understanding Human Dignity

Matthias Mahlmann

British Academy

Six issues that seem particularly important for examining human dignity as an ethical and legal concept are explored. First, the problems of its genealogy and second, the elements of its content are critically reconstructed. Third, questions of justification are addressed, in particular drawing attention to the axiological power of secular, egalitarian humanism for the theory of legitimacy of human dignity. Fourth, problems of concretisation are discussed that concern the precise circumscription of the scope (and equally importantly) the limits of dignity if it is to be applied convincingly in concrete legal circumstances. Fifth, the problem of universality is examined. Finally, some thought is given to a curious but, in practice, very important aspect of human dignity: its persistent human appeal.

Keywords:   genealogy of dignity, justification of dignity, content of dignity, concretization of dignity, limitation of dignity, universalism and dignity, humanism, secularism, instrumentalization, objectification

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