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On Human Dignity

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Chapter Summary

The idea of human dignity has been of essential interest in all discussions of human rights during the past sixty years. The central document in all these discussions, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its preamble speaks of "fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person", and "of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family". Human dignity seems to be something all humans deserve equally. In Talmudic law, an assault on the honor or dignity of another person is the equivalent of a tort: it is to be redressed monetarily. In the rabbinic tradition, the issue of human dignity is a concern of both rectifying and distributive justice. One might well divide up the field of human dignity into two sorts: one sort for everyone, the other sort for some but not for others.

Keywords: distributive justice; human dignity; human rights; rabbinic tradition; rectifying justice; Talmudic law



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