Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Habermas on human dignity and human rights

"Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik" (August, 2010) features an article by Jürgen Habermas on human dignity and human rights:

"Das utopische Gefälle. Das Konzept der Menschenwürde und die realistische Utopie der Menschenrechte". (Only available for free for a short period).

The article is based on Habermas' keynote lecture at an international conference in Frankfurt on June 17, 2010, on "Human Rights Today". See my previous posts here and here.

Update 1:
An English version is published in "Metaphilosophy" vol. 41, no. 4. (2010), pp. 464-480: "The Concept of Human Dignity and The Realistic Utopia of Human Rights". Here is the abstract:
"Human rights developed in response to specific violations of human dignity, and can therefore be conceived as specifications of human dignity, their moral source. This internal relationship explains the moral content and moreover the distinguishing feature of human rights: they are designed for an effective implementation of the core moral values of an egalitarian universalism in terms of coercive law. This essay is an attempt to explain this moral-legal Janus face of human rights through the mediating role of the concept of human dignity. This concept is due to a remarkable generalization of the particularistic meanings of those "dignities" that once were attached to specific honorific functions and memberships. In spite of its abstract meaning, "human dignity" still retains from its particularistic precursor concepts the connotation of depending on the social recognition of a status—in this case, the status of democratic citizenship. Only membership in a constitutional political community can protect, by granting equal rights, the equal human dignity of everybody."
Update 2:
A German version is also published in "Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie" vol. 58, no. 3 (July 2010), pp. 343-357, entitled "Das Konzept der Menschenwürde und die realistische Utopie der Menschenrechte".
"This paper argues that the normative source of modern basic rights consists in the idea of human dignity. It is this idea through which rights derive a universalistic content of morality. Due to their being rights, human rights can serve to protect human dignity, which in turn owes its connotations of self-respect and social recognition to the intramundane status of democratic citizenship. This is associated with a realistic utopia whose aim at realizing social justice is intrinsic to the very institutions of democratic constitutional states".

Update 3:
See Michael Jäger's comments in "Der Freitag" (August 4, 2010): "Was der Mensch ist"

Update 4:
See a summary in English by Professor Hans-Martin Schönherr-Mann.

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