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Dignity, Rank, and Rights (The Berkeley Tanner Lectures) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0199915439
ISBN-10: 0199915431
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Editorial Reviews

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"Dignity, Rank, and Rights is an unusual, and unusually refreshing, exercise in legal philosophy... his account of dignity as a legal status is meticulously researched, engages with a broad collection of thinkers and theories, and offers real insights into dignity's legal dimensions." -Michigan Law Review


"Waldron's take on human dignity is novel. It contains a bold inversion of almost all philosophical treatments of dignity as something like a metaphysical ground for moral claims. Waldron eschews this approach by understanding dignity as a substantive and structural feature of the way that legal orders establish rank and statusELthis bold approach allows Waldron to move forward a much-needed philosophical conversation about this deeply interesting and important concept."
-Analysis


About the Author


JW:University Professor of Law at New York UniversityMD-C:Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley
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Product Details

  • Series: The Berkeley Tanner Lectures
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199915431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199915439
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.6 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,369,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By HH on March 12, 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What question is an appeal to dignity supposed to answer? In the mid-twentieth century, the question was perhaps: ‘What is the fundamental moral feature of human beings – the feature on which all other moral and political considerations depend?’ Thus, the UN Declaration of Human Rights appeals to the ‘inherent dignity … of all members of the human family’ as ‘the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world’. The first article of the German Grundgesetz (The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany) says: "Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority." These documents treat human dignity as the moral bedrock on which contemporary legal–political structures are to be built. Dignity is what explains why people have human rights and explains the most basic limits of state authority. In "Dignity, Rank, and Rights", Waldron disagrees with all this. In a bold reversal, Waldron denies that dignity explains or conditions legal and political orders and instead argues that legal and political orders constitute dignity. On this view, the law constructs the dignity of the individual instead of the dignity of the individual existing independently of and prior to the law.

Waldron begins his defense of this claim by recovering features of dignity through reflecting on the history of dignity. The period during which dignity is most familiarly represented as a part of daily life is the period of the ascendance of aristocracy as a political order. Reflecting on dignity in this era reveals that dignity is a matter of the "rank or status that a person may occupy in society, display in his bearing and self-presentation, and exhibit in his speech and actions" (p. 28).
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