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DFG Graduate School 1402/01

Human Dignity and Human Rights - Origins, Development and Application of a Central Complex of Values


The research and training group "Human Dignity and Human Rights" is concerned with the historical-social background of this complex value for modernity, with its different theological and philosophical forms of reasoning, and with the present challenges and problems of 'applying' human rights and human dignity. Through the cooperation of six disciplines (philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, sociology, history, and intensive medical care) a deeper understanding of those problems is intended by combining questions of genesis with the question of validity. The program especially focuses upon the experience of injustice and particularly of violence in the emergence, the reasoning and the application of human rights.

An analytical and hermeneutic examination of the main arguments and strategies in the battle for human rights and human dignity is also part of the research training group. The focus is on those argumentation strategies that have prevailed throughout history and have proven as key notions in political-legal legitimating. The intention is not the creation and defence of the one, only and best reasoning. If the examinations concerning genesis and its different reasoning not only show that they have more in common than an "overlapping consensus" (Rawls) in the content of the specific rights and guidelines but also in the way of reasoning, this might point to certain normative foundations. They would be essential for an adequate discussion on human rights and human dignity.

This research training group is distinguished by its attempt to combine historical value analysis, arguments of reasoning, and reflection upon application, as opposed the more common narrations of human rights and human dignity with their philosophical reasoning. Rather, both genesis and validity are examined in the emergence of the value complex of human rights and human dignity and its range of application/usage. We investigate how new kinds of applications (e.g. the discussion about experiments on animals with a therapeutic purpose for humans) could possibly create new contexts for rights and dignity, and therefore offer a deeper understanding of human rights and human dignity.