Unit 3

Human dignity and human rights


Concepts of dignity in the history of ideas

a. Classical antiquity.
b. World religions traditions.
c. Modern philosophy (Pico della Mirandola, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant).
d. Contemporary humanitarian law.
i. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
ii. The European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

Human dignity as an intrinsic value of the person as an agent capable (at least potentially or as a member of natural kind) of reflection, sensitivity, verbal communication, free choice, self-determination in conduct and creativity.

a. Human dignity is an end in itself.
b. Equality in dignity of all human beings.
c. Respect and care.
d. The interests and welfare of the individual are prior to the sole interest of society.

The diverse understandings of human dignity in different cultural moral codes (Buddhist, Confucian, Judaic-Christian, Muslim, communitarian, liberal) and different types of societies.

A person’s dignity and rights entail others’ obligation to treat a person respectfully.


Antigone / Sophocles ( V Century B.C.) Felix Mendelssohn: Antigone (1841)