Chapter 3: Subsidiarity and human dignity: democracy, authority and knowledge
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Interpreted through the lens of human dignity, subsidiarity has a distinctive meaning: respect for individuals understood as equal knowers. In turn, it entails a requirement to foster autonomy and difference; subsidiarity demands that we correct our social and political systems in response to epistemic injustice. This standard makes demands far beyond the structures of delegation (and the interplay of centralisation and decentralisation) characteristic of the practice of subsidiarity in the European Union (EU). Nonetheless, with the EU constitutively committed to human dignity it is not enough for the Union to treat its democratic responsibilities as exhausted by consultative and justificatory processes. Its responsibility, like that of any state, must be to identify and remove barriers which diminish autonomy or which increase vulnerability amongst citizens, especially minorities. This is the dignitarian face of subsidiarity and it captures the respect for difference already present in the earliest conceptualisations of subsidiarity.

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