16 April 2005

Human dignity and the law

Here is Douglas Farrow, co-editor with Daniel Cere of Divorcing Marriage, writing on contemporary subjectivist notions of human dignity and the dangerous judicial efforts to embody these in the legal framework:

If human dignity is at bottom a matter of how I feel about myself, then I myself become both the measure and the measurer of human dignity. This is incompatible with the very concept of the rule of law, which requires a starting point in something that is the same for all. Allied to so alien a principle, the law can only become a vehicle of confusion and oppression rather than of clarity and liberation (pp. 102-3).

Allied with this subjectivist notion of dignity is that of compassion, which, far from facilitating the doing of justice, is more likely to lead to its miscarriage.

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