Dignity v. Dignity. The Significance of the Notion of Human Dignity in the Human Rights Tradition and its use in Bioethics.
Studies in Ethics and Law, 7.
Dignity is a key-notion in both the Charter of the United Nations
and the Declaration of Human Rights. .
The Charter of the United Nations (1946) reaffirms "faith in
fundamental human rights, in the dignity and the worth of the
human person". The war had just ended, with its depressing and
disillusioning experience of treason and organised crime against
humanity. The best word the drafters could find to express what
they wanted respected in each and every surviving individual was
"dignity". They didn't say lIautonomy". They had seen people freely
vote for Hitler to flee unemployment and poverty. They had seen
them collaborate in deporting millions of Jews, seen them kill and
sterilise for eugenic purposes. They had collaborated themselves.
Left to their own free will, people did not always behave rationally
or well. This was one of the basic lessons learnt by the survivors.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), expresses
some of this experience when it testifies that "recognition of the
inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all
members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice
and peace." Probably a universal agreement on these terms had not
been possible a century before. The Declaration is a unique achievement.
||Dignity; Notion of Human Dignity; Human Rights Tradition; Bioethics;
||Arts, Celtic Studies & Philosophy > Philosophy
||06 Mar 2012 12:41
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||Studies in Ethics and Law
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