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Augustine and Xunzi on Human Dignity and Human Rights: The Worth of Being Human and Its Entitlement to Institutional Measures for Protecting the Access to Human Flourishing

Divinity School, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Religions 2020, 11(5), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050264
Received: 21 April 2020 / Revised: 13 May 2020 / Accepted: 15 May 2020 / Published: 22 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Human Rights: Complementary or Contrary?)
While some human rights theorists suggest that the universalistic project of human rights can be consistent only with an individualistic conception of dignity aligned with liberal regimes, there have also been some voices of discontent raised from Christian and Confucian thinkers in favor of incompatibility. I refer to the universalistic position of approaching cross-cultural human rights by focusing on Pogge’s contextualistic universalism and Joas’ universalistic emphasis on the sacredness of person. I show how it is possible to ground the religious foundation of human dignity on self-transcendence (Joas) and the institutional foundation on the capacity for the pursuit of a worthwhile life as flourishing (Pogge). This idea of dignity grounds human rights as the entitlement to institutional measures for securing the access to basic goods for human flourishing (Pogge). When reinterpreting Augustine and Xunzi in light of human dignity and human rights, I tackle two questions, following Pogge and Joas. First, I reinterpret Augustine and Xunzi by showing how human dignity rests on the relative worth of pursuing one’s flourishing distinct from animals and the absolute worth of pursuing flourishing open for self-transcendence, which also entails different ranges of social conceptions of flourishing. I also tackle how this sense of dignity leads to the entitlement to institutional measures for protecting the access to basic goods for human flourishing as the issue of human rights. View Full-Text
Keywords: Human Rights; Human Dignity; universalism; flourishing; Thomas Pogge; Hans Joas; Augustine; Xunzi; Christian–Confucian dialogue Human Rights; Human Dignity; universalism; flourishing; Thomas Pogge; Hans Joas; Augustine; Xunzi; Christian–Confucian dialogue
MDPI and ACS Style

Hwang, E.Y. Augustine and Xunzi on Human Dignity and Human Rights: The Worth of Being Human and Its Entitlement to Institutional Measures for Protecting the Access to Human Flourishing. Religions 2020, 11, 264.

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