Publication details

Human Dignity between Competing Moral Traditions

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Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Ratio Publica
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web článek - open access
Keywords autonomy; human dignity; human rights; imago dei; liberalism; natural law; personalism; Thomism
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Description This article analyses competing understandings of human dignity in two rival traditions of moral enquiry. Since the end of World War II, human dignity has played a fundamental role in human rights and constitutional law. While initially, its understanding was significantly influenced by personalism, the liberal conception of dignity has been gradually gaining on importance. Post-war personalism was an influential offshoot of the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. It offers a specific conceptualisation of human dignity, which can be contrasted to a liberal one. In this paper, I will show how the conflict between the two traditions still persists revolving primarily around the adequate meaning of the concept of individual autonomy, which many liberal scholars associate with human dignity. According to the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, autonomy constitutes merely one part of a broader conception of human dignity, which is why we need to direct our attention elsewhere. The main goal of this paper is to clarify which meanings these competing perspectives ascribe to the concept of dignity; inevitably, this will lead us to analysing the clashes between their representatives over the proper interpretation of the concept. Finally, after delineating these intellectual disputes, I explore the grounds on which some agreement on the meaning of human dignity is possible between the adherents of these traditions.
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