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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 Concept of Human Dignity: Current Usages, Future Discourses

The Concept of Human Dignity: Current Usages, Future Discourses

(p.631) 37 The Concept of Human Dignity: Current Usages, Future Discourses
Understanding Human Dignity

Bernhard Schlink

British Academy

The concept of human dignity is used as a flag under which people fight for freedom, equality, and decent living conditions; as a foundational concept for human rights; and as a right that protects core elements of human identity and integrity absolutely. The concept is also used to reinforce specific claims for freedom and equality rhetorically without contributing to the solution of the conflict at hand. But the concept also bridges the gaps between the different usages; it expresses their overlap; and as a Sehnsuchtsbegriff it brings together people who long for a better and fairer world. In human dignity discourse lawyers bring legal problems and philosophers’ reflections on what humans are and owe each other—under a secular premise. Theologians rarely reflect on the dangers for human dignity within the church and similar institutions resulting from hierarchy and control, unequal treatment of women and others, celibacy, paternalism and seclusiveness.

Keywords:   Usages of the concept of human dignity, reasons to hold on to the concept of human dignity, interdisciplinary discourse on human dignity, the role of Catholic theologians in interdisciplinary discourse on human dignity, human dignity within institutions

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