Dignity: Its History and Meaning

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 200
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jbpsw
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Dignity plays a central role in thinking about law and human rights, but there is sharp disagreement about its meaning. Combining conceptual precision with a broad historical background, Rosen puts these controversies in context and offers a novel, constructive proposal. He also answers a puzzling question: why treat the dead with dignity?

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06551-2
    Subjects: Philosophy, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-xviii)

    Schopenhauer, the Ebenezer Scrooge of nineteenth-century philosophy, took a characteristically jaundiced view of talk of human dignity: “That expression, dignity of man, once uttered by Kant, afterward became the shibboleth of all the perplexed and empty-headed moralists who concealed behind that imposing expression their lack of any real basis of morals, or, at any rate, of one that had any meaning. They cunningly counted on the fact that their readers would be glad to see themselves invested with such a dignity and would accordingly be quite satisfied with it.” Is Schopenhauer right? Is the talk of “dignity” mere humbug—a...

  6. 2 THE LEGISLATION OF DIGNITY (pp. 63-128)

    In October 1995 the Conseil d’État (the court of highest instance for French administrative law) adjudicated a case brought by a M. Manuel Wackenheim against the commune of Morsang-sur-Orge. On October 25, 1991, the Mayor of Morsang-sur-Orge had issued an order banning a dwarf-tossing competition due to take place at a local discotheque. M. Wackenheim, a dwarf, wearing a protective suit, was to be thrown by the competitors, landing on a suitably placed airbed. The Mayor banned the planned competition using his police powers for the maintenance of public order and safety. M. Wackenheim appealed against this ban and, in...

  7. 3 DUTY TO HUMANITY (pp. 129-160)

    To respect someone’s dignity requires that one treats them “with dignity”—that is, they must not be treated in ways that degrade, insult, or express contempt. But it is not only living human beings whom we believe deserve to be treated with respect: we are required to dispose of human remains according to prescribed rituals. The precise content of such rituals varies widely—should corpses be buried, burned, or left to be eaten by vultures?—but their existence and, as it seems, symbolic force, is strikingly general. At the end of the previous chapter I said that, in my opinion,...

  8. NOTES (pp. 163-168)
  9. INDEX (pp. 169-176)

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