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

In Paulus Kaufmann, Hannes Kuch, Christian Neuhäuser & Elaine Webster (eds.), Humiliation, Degradation, Dehumanization. Human Dignity Violated. Dordrecht, Niederlande: Springer. pp. 7-17 (2010)

Abstract

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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Author's Profile

Ralf Stoecker
Bielefeld University

References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.

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