Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 5, 2004

Human Dignity - Functions and Meanings

Doron Shultziner
From the journal Global Jurist Topics

The concept of Human Dignity has become more and more prevalent in legal, moral and philosophical discourses. However, as much as linguistic functions of the concept have become widespread, its meanings have become ambiguous and blurred. This paper seeks to map and depict the main functions and meanings that the concept of human dignity encompass, and, hence, to enable both those concerned with law and its interpretation, and moral-philosophers to discern the different linguistic-spheres and the different meanings this concept encircle. The analysis will show that the meanings of human dignity are socially constructed in accordance with particular cultural and historical contexts. There is no one "true" meaning of human dignity, but rather different levels of "thickness" and "thinness" that are culturally determined in each society. The paper advances insights regarding the use of human dignity in both the legal parlance - as a justification for human rights in legal documents; and in the moral-philosophical parlance - as compared to a worldview on the one hand, and as related to humiliation on the other.

Published Online: 2004-2-5

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

Scroll Up Arrow