quality of a being deserving respect

Dignity in humans involves the earning or the expectation of personal respect or esteem.

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood". Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It is easy to show that many societies do not agree with this in practice. The civilised Greeks and Romans regarded other races as barbarians. A shocking example was Aristotle's advice to Alexander to be 'a leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians, to look after the former as after friends and relatives, and to deal with the latter as with beasts or plants'.[1]p58 Many societies based on religion have treated persons of other religions harshly, with little dignity. And sometimes political movements have deliberately and openly talked about and treated some groups as not having human dignity. Nazi treatment of the Jews came after a long period of propaganda against their humanity and dignity.



  1. Green P. 1991. Alexander of Macedon, University of California Press.

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