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Response or Comment

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Journal of Religious Ethics





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What are “human rights” supposed to protect? According to most human rights doctrines, including most notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), human rights aim to protect “human dignity.” But what this concept amounts to and what its source is remain unclear. According to Glenn Hughes (2011), human rights theorists ought to consider human dignity as an “intrinsically heuristic concept,” whose content is partially understood but is not fully determined. In this comment, I criticize Hughes's account. On my view, understanding inherent human dignity as an intrinsically heuristic concept tethers it to an “indeterminateness of sense,” which leaves it open to exploitation from theorists unsympathetic to the moral salience of rights and what rights are supposed to protect.


"This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Comment. J Relig Ethics, 42: 770-775, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited."

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