This is a page about the research project “Human Dignity: its Genealogy” currently being developed by undergraduated and graduated law students, oriented by professor Antonio Pele, in Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC Rio), Brazil. This page is kept by students Alice Mueller and Pedro Borges de Carvalho, who will be updating it as the project unfolds. In this blog, the project’s developments and articles discussed, as well as our reports and notes, will be routinely submitted.
The legal concept of human dignity has been awarded with continuosly growing prominence over the last decades. Still, there is not a common ground about its historical origins, or even its content. Moreover, the notion is commonly assaulted by critics as etnocentric, eurocentric, anthropocentric, ambiguous and useless.
The objective of this project is to understand the genealogy of human dignity in the light of power relations, considering the influence and reach of the discourse of fundamental rights on the contemporary paradigm of human dignity (while observing the particularism-universalism debate of human rights) and evaluating the disruption between the contemporary model of human dignity and the older paradigm of the concept. Furthermore, it is a goal to prove, in the opposite direction of what is generally defended in the studies of this subject, that human dignity, defined as an inherent value, is not the cause, but the consequence of its definition as an absolute value. It is also of importance to analyze the current signification of human dignity taking as a premise the “humanity as a value”, underlying idea from the fourth generation of human rights.