Dignity: Its History and Meaning

Dignity: Its History and Meaning

by Michael Rosen
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0674064437

ISBN-13: 9780674064430

Pub. Date: 03/20/2012

Publisher: Harvard

Dignity plays a central role in current thinking about law and human rights, but there is sharp disagreement about its meaning. Combining conceptual precision with a broad historical background, Michael Rosen puts these controversies in context and offers a novel, constructive proposal.

Drawing on law, politics, religion, and culture, as well as philosophy, Rosen

Overview

Dignity plays a central role in current thinking about law and human rights, but there is sharp disagreement about its meaning. Combining conceptual precision with a broad historical background, Michael Rosen puts these controversies in context and offers a novel, constructive proposal.

Drawing on law, politics, religion, and culture, as well as philosophy, Rosen shows how modern conceptions of dignity inherit several distinct strands of meaning. This is why users of the word nowadays often talk past one another. The idea of dignity as the foundation for the universal entitlement to human rights represented the coming together after the Second World War of two extremely powerful traditions: Christian theology and Kantian philosophy. Not only is this idea of dignity as an “inner transcendental kernel” behind human rights problematic, Rosen argues, it has drawn attention away from a different, very important, sense of dignity: the right to be treated with dignity, that is, with proper respect.

At the heart of the argument stands the giant figure of Immanuel Kant. Challenging current orthodoxy, Rosen’s interpretation presents Kant as a philosopher whose ethical thought is governed, above all, by the requirement of showing respect toward a kernel of value that each of us carries, indestructibly, within ourselves. Finally, Rosen asks (and answers) a surprisingly puzzling question: why do we still have a duty to treat the dead with dignity if they will not benefit from our respect?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674064430
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
03/20/2012
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
200
Sales rank:
325,040
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

References and Abbreviations xix

1 "The Shibboleth of All Empty-Headed Moralists" 1

I Humbug? 1

II Cicero and After 11

III Kant 19

IV Grace and Dignity 31

V Dignity and Equality 38

VI Hierarchy 47

VII Respect for Rights and the Right to Respect 54

2 The Legislation of Dignity 63

I Dwarves with Dignity 63

II Germany 77

III The Kantian Background: The Formula of Humanity 80

IV Catholicism and the Grundgesetz 90

V Interpreting the Grundgesetz 100

VI Daschner and the Air Safety Law 104

VII Is There a Consistent Interpretation? 107

VIII Voluntarism 119

IX Conclusion 125

3 Duty to Humanity 129

I Humanism 129

II A Utilitarian Response 131

III Externalism 133

IV Non-Human Things May Be Intrinsically Good 135

V Duty 138

VI Kant 142

VII Duty without Platonism 156

Notes 163

Index 169

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