The Role of Human Dignity in the Swiss Legal System. Arguing for a Dualistic Notion of Human Dignity
Journal international de bioéthique = International journal of bioethics 2010 Dec; 21(4): 83-91, 161-2
The particular history and codification of human dignity in the Swiss Constitution provide grounds for distinguishing two fundamentally different interpretations and functions of human dignity: on the one hand, human dignity as an inviolable fundamental right, on the other hand, as an objective constitutional principle. As a fundamental right, human dignity protects the need of the individual to be recognised in his own, subjective value. This need is so fundamental for human well-being that it merits absolute protection. From this there follows an absolute prohibition of human humiliation by means of torture, discrimination, slavery or in other ways. In contrast, as a constitutional principle, human dignity protects the objective value of the human being as a person, that is to say, the objective value of all human life that is a person, will be a person (embryo and fetus) and has been a person (dead body). The protection of such an objective value is in the interest of a multitude of persons whose moral judgements generate that value. As a constitutional principle, human dignity therefore protects a public interest. The protection conferred by such a constitutional principle is significantly weaker than the protection afforded by human dignity as a fundamental right.
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