chapter  4
The concept of human dignity and the realistic utopia of human rights
ByJürgen Habermas
Pages 19

This chapter presents some legal reasons in support of the claim that "human dignity" is not merely a classificatory expression, an empty placeholder, as it were, which lumps a multiplicity of different phenomena together but the moral "source" from which all of the basic rights derive their sustenance. It also presents a systematic analysis, in the guise of a conceptual history, of the catalytic role played by the concept of dignity in the construction of human rights out of rational morality and the form of law. The origin of human rights in the moral notion of human dignity explains the explosive political force of a concrete utopia to defend against the blanket dismissal of human rights, on the one hand, and against more recent attempts to blunt their radical thrust, on the other. Human dignity, which is one and the same everywhere and for everyone, grounds the indivisibility of the all categories of human rights.