What do the Philosophers Have against Dignity?

23 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2014 Last revised: 8 Nov 2014

See all articles by Jeremy Waldron

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

Date Written: September 17, 2014


Among analytic philosophers, there is considerable antipathy towards the concept of human dignity. It is not always expressed, but the impression is conveyed that this is a rather disreputable idea and that its trumpeting in legal and political theory is to be deplored. The present paper tries to get to grips with the sources of this antipathy. Is it based on the unclarity of the concept, its religious overtones, its speciesism, or its redundancy as a moral idea. The paper makes a case for dignity as a status-concept -- denoting a particular sort of moral/legal status that all humans have.

Keywords: definition, dignity, foundationalism, human dignity, religion, rights

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, What do the Philosophers Have against Dignity? (September 17, 2014). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 14-59. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2497742 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2497742

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

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