ARGUMENT: “Only human beings have dignity”

SUMMARY: What is dignity? What is the relationship between dignity and respect? Do nonhumans have dignity? These are some of the questions that I am going to answer here.

Dignity is not a characteristic possessed by subjects, but refers to how someone deserves or should be treated by others. To say that someone has dignity is similar to saying that someone deserves respect, which implies taking into consideration their interests to treat him/her well. Therefore, when someone says that humans have dignity, he/she is saying that they deserve to be treated with respect, which is true, but the reason for respecting them is not because they are humans, as anthropocentrism erroneously says, but because they are beings that have a consciousness and so feel and have interests, as sensocentrism says. Those who are not humans also feel and have interests that must be ethically considered, consequently they also deserve respect: they have dignity.

Key words: dignity, respect
Change language to: spanish


Some people say that "humans, and only them, have dignity." The word "dignity" (From lat. Dignĭtas, -ātis) means in its first meaning "1. F. Quality of worthy ", and" worthy "(Of lat. Dignus) means" 1. adj. Worthy of something." Dignity is not a characteristic possessed by subjects, but refers to how someone deserves or should be treated by others. The concept of "dignity" is widely used by Judeo-Christian theology to arbitrarily discriminate those who are nonhumans by saying that "they have no dignity"; coming to say that they are just things for humans to use. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads: "Being made in the image of God, the human being has the dignity of a person; it is not just something, but someone. He is able to know himself, to possess and to freely give himself and to enter into communion with other people; and he is called, by grace, to an alliance with his Creator, to offer him an answer of faith and love which no other being can give in his place." In the same line as Catholicism, Adela Cortina says that "animals have a value and humans dignity." To say that someone has dignity is similar to saying that someone deserves respect, which implies taking into consideration their interests to treat him/her well [1]. Therefore, when someone says that humans have dignity, he/she is saying that they deserve to be treated with respect, which is true, but the reason for respecting them is not because they are humans, as anthropocentrism erroneously says [2], but because they are beings that have a consciousness and so feel and have interests, as sensocentrism says [3]. Those who are not humans also feel and have interests that must be ethically considered, consequently they also deserve respect: they have dignity.


Traducción:
Matías Castro, profesor de inglés.
Creador de Alternativa Vegana (facebook) (youtube)