The Nature and Basis of Human Dignity

Published Date: May 13, 2008 | Topics: Natural Law, Philosophy

View Source

[This article was co-authored by Patrick Lee and Robert P. George.]

Abstract. We argue that all human beings have a special type of dignity which is the basis for (1) the obligation all of us have not to kill them, (2) the obligation to take their well-being into account when we act, and (3) even the obligation to treat them as we would have them treat us, and indeed, that all human beings are equal in fundamental dignity. We give reasons to oppose the position that only some human beings, because of their possession of certain characteristics in addition to their humanity (for example, an immediately exercisable capacity for self-consciousness, or for rational deliberation), have full moral worth. What distinguishes human beings from other animals, what makes human beings persons rather than things, is their rational nature, and human beings are rational creatures by virtue of possessing natural capacities for conceptual thought, deliberation, and free choice, that is, the natural capacity to shape their own lives.

Continue reading in Ratio Juris.

More Articles & Essays

Natural Law, the Constitution, and the Theory and Practice of Judicial Review

Published Date: January 1, 2000 | Topics: Constitutional Issues, Natural Law, Politics and Current Affairs

Read in Fordham Law Review.

Read More

Immoral Conduct and Moral Witness

Published Date: June 3, 2019 | Topics: Politics and Current Affairs, Religion

June 3, 2019By Rev. Eugene F. Rivers and Robert P. George Does the sexual depravity of Martin Luther King, Jr. negate his work and witness in the cause of racial justice? Like many Americans, we have long admired the work and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. His leadership and courage in a supremely just […]

Read More
View All Articles & Essays