Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Still more on human dignity

I appreciate Rob's and Fr. Araujo's recent posts on my teacher David Luban's recent book and human dignity.  Rob quoted this particular passage from Luban's Legal Ethics and Human Dignity:

"I suspect that human dignity is not a metaphysical property of individual humans, but rather a property of relationships between humans -- between, so to speak, the dignifier and the dignified.  To put it another way, 'human dignity' designates a way of being human, not a property of being human."

Interesting.  I'd want to be able to say that even a human being whose relationships are all lousy and dysfunctional still has, as a human person, "dignity" and worth.  That said, there's something to this "relationships" idea, it seems.  I was reminded by David's claim of Nicholas Wolterstorff's new book, "Justice:  Rights and Wrongs" (my review is forthcoming in First Things).  Wolterstorff contends that only a theistic account -- and not a secular account -- of "human dignity adequate for grounding human rights" is possible.  In his view, the key is "bestowed worth" (think of "The Velveteen Rabbit"):  "What we need, for a theistic grounding of human rights", he writes," is some worth-imparting relation of human beings to God that does not in any way involve a reference to human capacities.  I will argue that being loved by God is such a relation; being loved by God gives a human being great worth."


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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