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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law [MPECCoL]

Human Dignity and Autonomy

Jacob Weinrib

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 19 April 2021

Subject(s):
Dignity and autonomy of individuals

General Editors: Rainer Grote, Frauke Lachenmann, Rüdiger Wolfrum.
Managing Editor: Ana Harvey

1 Human dignity leads a double life. On the one hand, the concept forms the unifying idea of the modern constitutional approach to rights protection. On the other, the shortcomings of the leading theories of human dignity generate increasing scepticism about the concept. Human dignity has been called a ‘vacuous concept’ bereft of any boundaries (Bagaric and Allan 269); a subjective idea that varies ‘radically with the time, place, and beholder’ (Pinker); an indistinct idea that ‘masks a great deal of disagreement and sheer confusion’ (Rosen 67); and an ‘impossibly...
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