Courts, Constitutions, and the Worth of the Human Person
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Table of Contents
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The twentieth century was a time of revolutionary developments in the area of human rights. At the center of those developments stands the revolution with respect to human dignity— a response, at least in part, to the Nazis’ hideously brutal actions during the Second World War and the Holocaust. ...
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Until the late twentieth century, there was no right to dignity. Dignity was an idea, a quality, something to aspire to, or something associated with high office or status. But it was not a right that law recognized. All that changed in the aftermath of the Second World War. ...
1: "Of all Members of the Human Family"
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The term “dignity” is not new. It is referred to throughout the Corpus Juris Civilis as a synonym for rank or high office and is often qualified by “patrician,” “prætorian,” “consular,” and so on, and so usually pertains to an office and to those who hold or are worthy of such office.1 ...
2: "Not . . . a Mere Plaything"
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From sparse textual foundations, the constitutional courts of many countries have developed a robust jurisprudence of dignity. Dignity has become, in the words of one jurist, a “most fashionable concept.”1 The cases arise out of an astonishing range of factual settings, from abortion to name changes to housing to torture. ...
3: "The Minimum Necessities of Life"
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Law is a practical enterprise: it deals with a real problem in real people’s lives. It is not enough in law to recognize the inherent dignity of every human being. That only matters if each person is in fact living a life with dignity, where his or her individuality and autonomy are valued in conjunction with everyone else’s. ...
4: "Master of One's Fate"
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American constitutional jurisprudence is always something of an outlier, and no less with respect to human dignity. The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized, since the beginning, that the concept of dignity is important in the interpretation of the Constitution, although it appears nowhere in its text. ...
5: "What Respect is Due"
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Dignity is important. Countries are increasingly including references to dignity in their constitutions; few recent constitutions have been adopted without mentioning human dignity, regardless of region, culture, or history.1 And within constitutional texts themselves, dignity is being described in increasingly elaborate and detailed terms.2 ...
6: "The Beginning and the End of the State"
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If dignity jurisprudence is defining what it means to be human and also the ambit of the modern state, then the line in between is critical. Where do the laws of the state end and the laws of the individual begin? This might be thought of as the line of sovereignty, demarcating the reach of individual sovereignty …
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I owe a debt of gratitude to many people who provided me with ideas, inspiration, support, and encouragement, including the H. Albert Young family, Linda Ammons and the Widener University School of Law, Peter Agree at the University of Pennsylvania Press for his continued commitment to this project, ...
Publication Year: 2012