Human Dignity and Its Critics

Jacobsohn and Schor, eds, Comparative Constitutional Theory (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2018) 167-186

21 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2017 Last revised: 7 Jul 2020

Date Written: May 29, 2017

Abstract

This Chapter explores four prominent objections to the overarching role that human dignity plays in constitutional and human rights law. In the eyes of its critics, human dignity is objectionable because it (1) is too variable to be captured by a coherent constitutional theory; (2) stands in opposition to a liberal vision of constitutional governance; (3) fails to offer guidance for resolving constitutional disputes; and (4) is incapable of justifying anything until it is itself justified. My aim is to unearth the presuppositions that generate these objections, explain why these presuppositions are controversial, and to formulate a set of plausible alternatives that do not give rise to these objections. Since the leading objections stem from presuppositions that need not be accepted, these objections do not preclude the formulation of a comparative constitutional theory of human dignity.

Keywords: human dignity; human rights; constitutional rights; constitutionalism; justification; liberalism; determinacy; foundationalism; and proportionality

Suggested Citation

Weinrib, Jacob, Human Dignity and Its Critics (May 29, 2017). Jacobsohn and Schor, eds, Comparative Constitutional Theory (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2018) 167-186, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2976495

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