Comparative Constitutional Theory
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Comparative Constitutional Theory

Edited by Gary Jacobsohn and Miguel Schor

The need for innovative thinking about alternative constitutional experiences is evident, and readers of Comparative Constitutional Theory will find in its pages a compendium of original, theory-driven essays. The authors use a variety of theoretical perspectives to explore the diversity of global constitutional experience in a post-1989 world prominently marked by momentous transitions from authoritarianism to democracy, by multiple constitutional revolutions and devolutions, by the increased penetration of international law into national jurisdictions, and by the enhancement of supra-national institutions of governance.
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Chapter 9: Human dignity and its critics

Jacob Weinrib


Abstract: This Chapter explores four prominent objections to the overarching role that human dignity plays in constitutional and human rights law. In the eyes of its critics, human dignity is objectionable because it (1) is too variable to be captured by a coherent constitutional theory; (2) stands in opposition to a liberal vision of constitutional governance; (3) fails to offer guidance for resolving constitutional disputes; and (4) is incapable of justifying anything until it is itself justified. My aim is to unearth the presuppositions that generate these objections, explain why these presuppositions are controversial, and to formulate a set of plausible alternatives that do not give rise to these objections. Since the leading objections stem from presuppositions that need not be accepted, these objections do not preclude the formulation of a comparative constitutional theory of human dignity.

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