Human Dignity and Human Rights

ISBN : 9780198827221

Pablo Gilabert
368 ページ
156 x 234 mm

Human dignity: social movements invoke it, several national constitutions enshrine it, and it features prominently in international human rights documents. But what is human dignity, why is it important, and what is its relationship to human rights?

This book offers a sophisticated and comprehensive defence of the view that human dignity is the moral heart of human rights. First, it clarifies the network of concepts associated with dignity. Paramount within this network is a core notion of human dignity as an inherent, non-instrumental, egalitarian, and high-priority normative status of human persons. People have this status in virtue of their valuable human capacities rather than as a result of their national origin and other conventional features. Second, it shows how human dignity gives rise to an inspiring ideal of solidaristic empowerment, which calls us to support people's pursuit of a flourishing life by affirming both negative duties not to block or destroy, and positive duties to protect and facilitate, the development and exercise of the valuable capacities at the basis of their dignity. The most urgent of these duties are correlative to human rights. Third, this book illustrates how the proposed dignitarian approach allows us to articulate the content, justification, and feasible implementation of specific human rights, including contested ones, such as the rights to democratic political participation and to decent labour conditions. Finally, this book's dignitarian approach helps illuminate the arc of humanist justice, identifying both the difference and the continuity between the basic requirements of human rights and more expansive requirements of social justice such as those defended by liberal egalitarians and democratic socialists.

Human dignity is indeed the moral heart of human rights. Understanding it enables us to defend human rights as the urgent ethical and political project that puts humanity first.


1 Introduction
Part I: Preliminary Debates: The Relations Between Human Rights and Political Practice, Feasibility, and Power
2 Humanist and Political Perspectives on Human Rights
3 The Feasibility of Human Rights
4 Human Rights and Power
Part II: The Dignitarian Approach
5 Understanding Human Dignity in Human Rights
6 Defending the Significance of Human Dignity
7 Dignity and Solidaristic Empowerment
8 The Dignitarian Approach as a Program
Part III: Implications of the Dignitarian Approach
9 Labor Rights
10 Political Rights
11 Minimalist vs. Expansive Views of Human Rights: Dignity and the Arc of Humanist Justice


Pablo Gilabert is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). He has published numerous articles in scholarly jounrals such as The Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Theory, The Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, Political Studies, Kantian Review and Human Rights Quarterly. He is the author of From Global Poverty to Global Equality: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford University Press).