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Human Dignity and Human Rights: A Reply to Schroeder

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Schaber Peter,
Project Human Dignity and Moral Rights
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Volume (Issue) January 2014(17)
Page(s) 155 - 161
Title of proceedings Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
DOI 10.1007/s10677-013-9427-2


According to Doris Schroeder, the view that human rights derive from human dignity should be rejected. She thinks that this is the case for three different reasons: the first has to do with the fact that the dominant concept of dignity is based on religious beliefs which will do no justificatory work in a secular society; the second is that the dominant secular view of dignity, which is the Kantian view, does not provide us with a justification of human rights, i.e. rights all humans have; and the third reason has to do with the fact that dignity is understood in too many different ways to provide us with a justification of human rights. It is argued in this paper that none of these reasons for separating human rights from human dignity is convincing. It is true, it will be argued, that some accounts of dignity will not be successful in justifying human rights. But there is no reason to assume that no account of human dignity is capable of doing this. In the final part of the paper a concept of human dignity is presented that could indeed provide us with a justificatory basis for human rights.