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DignityA History$
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Remy Debes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199385997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385997.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Dignity
Author(s):

Remy Debes

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385997.003.0001

Until the mid-nineteenth century, the concept of dignity almost invariably connoted elevated social rank, of the sort that marked nobility or ecclesiastic preferment. However, today dignity usually connotes a fundamental moral status belonging to all humans equally, which status is the basis of human rights. How did this radical change in meaning come about? And did anything like our moralized concept of dignity exist before it was named “dignity”? The introduction sketches the way that the chapters in this volume answer these questions, and in turn how they draw the arc of dignity’s conceptual development from Homeric Greek thought to medieval Christian and Islamic theology through eighteenth century enlightenment revolutions all the way to the contemporary era.

Keywords:   human dignity, dignitas, imago Dei, Pico della Mirandola, Immanuel Kant, American Constitution, human rights, human worth, respect, equality

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