Status of Main Author

Undergraduate

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2017

Abstract

The term human dignity in often used in attempts to shape public discourse. Individuals and groups whose beliefs range across the spectrum will claim that their propositions in regards to the issue are upholding human dignity while their opponents’ fail to do so. Religious traditions give a certain interpretation of the term, and many fear that religious beliefs are being imposed through the common invocation of the concept. By examining religious and secular definitions of human dignity, this research paper finds that dignity is not an inescapably religious concept. Secular definitions, however, have certain limitations to serve as viable alternatives: they propose varying definitions that depend on the context of the tradition’s theoretical framework. Therefore, in order to prevent the further modification of the meaning of “dignity” to fit a certain narrative, the individuals who appeal to the term in their argumentation should identify the tradition of thought that they are referring to as well. Promotion of transparency concerning values that embody dignity and implications that it infers within the moral framework of both religious and nonreligious traditions could prevent the simplification of the concept for the goal of imposing certain narratives through a strong emotional appeal.

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