Not gods but animals: human dignity and vulnerable subjecthood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing on earlier work on the conceptual structure of dignity, this
paper will suggest a particular type of connectedness between vulnerability and
human dignity; namely, that the ‘‘organizing idea’’ of human dignity is the idea of a
particular sort of ethical response to universal human vulnerability. It is common
ground among many, if not all, approaches to ethics that vulnerability requires us to
respond ethically. Here, I argue that human dignity is distinctive among ethical
values in that it values us because of, rather than in spite of, or regardless of, our
universal vulnerability. The term ‘‘dignity’’ is used synonymously with ‘‘human
dignity’’ here, since an investigation of the dignity of non-human entities forms no
part of the present examination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-200
Number of pages24
JournalLiverpool Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • dignity
  • kant
  • vulnerability
  • autonomy
  • not gods but animals
  • human dignity
  • vulnerable subjecthood

Cite this