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Title: Human dignity : bringing law down to Earth
Author: Harrison, Alice
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 3586
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Dignity founds The Law: from the centralising dignity of sovereign and parliament; to the particular dignities of The Crown and the Courts; to challenges that The Law fails to respect human dignity. Remembrance revealed through historic experience (in a survey of dignity in UK statute and Case law) and societal reflection (in dignity, jurisprudence and philosophy literature), reveals dignity evolved through Stoic characterisation of dignity as a logically reasoned, ethically considered way to be, to contemporary ideas that challenge the logic and or ethics of an imposed way of being. Much contemporary dignity literature accepts limits to law, working within The Law to try to claim the posited self-indulgent position of sovereign dignity, in claims of rank and rights. I suggest the only dignity to withstand societal scrutiny, in a consistent guiding message recognised through two millennia of Stoic informed wisdom, is that people individually sense, reason and reflect on good ways for themselves and society to be. People, who accept societal limits, but aspire to more. Consistent with this history I suggest a new definition for dignity; ‘societally valued worthiness in being’ that positively emerges from humans being in dynamic society. People limited by The Law try to concretise dignity, and law; to pin down particular ways for people and society to be, contained in rules of law. For example, governing law, assumed in sovereign dignity naturally arising in the leadership of people in particular ways of being concretised in autocracies and democratic parliaments; The Law providing the normative guidance of how to conform to that way of being. Yet, in agreement with John Austin, I suggest logical reason and ethical considerations of dignity do not arise exclusively in sovereign roles, but naturally from a positive ferment of command and obedience that challenges, and or necessarily supports, the positions of asserted dignity. I challenge Austin’s presumption that sovereign positions are only maintained by coercion, suggesting dignity also arises in societies bound by care and cooperation. I recognise the positive ferment of The Law in governing law, but also in wider contexts of dignity, societally valued worthiness in being, that work independently of The Law. I adopt the work of William Twining and his distinctions of ‘law talk’ of The Law and ‘talk about’ governing law to inform and enhance a re-picturing of a positive Natural Law Continuum. Finally I adapt Hohfeld’s matrix of rights to suggest that incidents of The Law reveal the locus of dignity in The Law’s making. The matrix, The New Model of Governing Law, can be used to (re)consider whether a particular position of The Law (still) has dignity; is The Law valued worthy of being in contemporary society. Understanding The Law’s dignity, alongside contemporary determinations of dignity, confirms The Law as societally valued, and or illuminates ways and dignity (independent like minds) loci to support, innovate or challenge The Law. Sovereign dignity, and societal law, evolves through the emergence of human dignity in incidents and issues recognised as contained in governing law, within the wider societal determination of Natural Law Continuum.
Supervisor: Ben-Dor, Oren Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: K Law (General)