Reva Siegel and the Role of Religion in Constructing the Meaning of ‘Human Dignity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The “religious understanding” of dignity is a topic of considerable complexity and is the subject of extensive scholarship. In this paper, I consider understandings of dignity that are currently under discussion in Roman Catholic circles, not least because Catholic discussions of dignity are often seen as influential in public policy and legal interpretation, directly and indirectly. I shall focus on one relatively neglected issue in legal scholarship: how scholars go about the task of identifying what a particular religion’s understanding of human dignity involves.
To illustrate the methodological problems that such an enterprise raises, I shall take one attempt by a scholar writing in the field of secular legal scholarship to describe Catholic understandings of dignity in the context of abortion and same-sex marriage. The discussion is that of Reva Siegel, an academic lawyer at Yale University; her recent analysis of differing understandings of dignity illustrates some of the issues that arise when the secular scholarly community addresses religious understandings of dignity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligion and the Discourse of Human Rights
EditorsHanoch Dagan, Shahar Lifshitz, Yedidia Stern
Place of PublicationJerusalem
PublisherIsrael Democracy Institute
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9789655191394
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameEnglish Books
PublisherThe Israel Democracy Institute


  • Reva Siegel, Catholic doctrine, human dignity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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