Reva Siegel and the Role of Religion in Constructing the Meaning of 'Human Dignity'
The Role of Religion in Human Rights Discourse, Hanoch Dagan, ed., Forthcoming
19 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2013 Last revised: 1 May 2013
Date Written: March 1, 2013
There is a well-recognized role that organized religions played in the post-Second World War development of international and transnational human rights protections. One of the problematic aspects of this protection is the extent to which there appears to be a disagreement over the basic question of what underpins these human rights. Increasingly, “human dignity” has been drawn on to fulfill this role. “Human dignity” is a concept with strong resonances in political, philosophical, legal, and theological understandings of human rights. But what, if any, is the religious understanding of “human dignity” and what role, if any, does it play in the development of legal interpretation of human rights? As importantly, what role should it play? The “religious understanding” of dignity is, of course, a topic of considerable complexity and is the subject of extensive scholarship. In this paper, I consider one relatively neglected issue that this legal scholarship raises: how should scholars go about the task of identifying what a particular religion’s understanding of human dignity involves? I discuss a recent article by Reva Siegel in the International Journal of Constitutional Law to illustrate the methodological issues that arise when legal scholars engage with other complex normative systems.
Keywords: religion, human rights scholarship, human dignity, Roman Catholic, Reva Siegel
JEL Classification: K10, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation