Human Dignity and Law: Legal and Philosophical Investigations, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Human Dignity and Law

Legal and Philosophical Investigations, 1st Edition

By Stephen Riley


216 pages

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Hardback: 9781138287587
pub: 2017-11-09
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315268163
pub: 2017-11-10
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This book argues that human dignity and law stand in a privileged relationship with one another. Law must be understood as limited by the demands made by human dignity. Conversely, human dignity cannot be properly understood without clarifying its interaction with legal institutions and legal practices. This is not, then, a survey of the uses of human dignity in law; it is a rethinking of human dignity in relation to our principles of social governance.  The result is a revisionist account of human dignity and law, one focused less on the use of human dignity in our regulations and more on its constitutive implications for the governance of the public realm.

The first part conducts a wide-ranging moral, legal and political analysis of the nature and functions of human dignity. The second part applies that analysis to three fields of legal regulation: international law, transnational law, and domestic public law.

The book will appeal to scholars in both philosophy and law. It will also be of interest to political theorists, particularly those working within the liberal tradition or those concerned with institutional design.


This book develops an original revisionist understanding of human dignity. Under this understanding, dignity does not exist prior to or independently of law. Human dignity should be analyzed as a value which lies at the intersection of morality, law and politics. This valuable approach challenges established dogmas and establishes the significance of law as a value-sustaining institution.

Alon Harel, Mizock Professor of Law, The Hebrew University Law Faculty and the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality

In place of conceptions of human dignity that suffer from normative indeterminacy, regulative redundancy, or constitutive incoherence, Stephen Riley elaborates an account that focuses on the basic status of humans and their entitlements in a network of obligations that ranges across law, politics, morals, and justice. This is a truly impressive work, beautifully written and compellingly argued.

Roger Brownsword, King’s College London and Bournemouth University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents





Part I

Chapter 1 Human Dignity and Law

Chapter 2 Human Dignity as Status

Chapter 3 Human Dignity, Justice, and Institutions

Part II

Chapter 4 International Law

Chapter 5 Transnational Law

Chapter 6 Public Law

About the Author

Dr Stephen Riley is a lecturer in the Law School of the University of Leicester, UK. He has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy at Utrecht University.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Comparative
LAW / Constitutional
LAW / Jurisprudence
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
PHILOSOPHY / Political