Human dignity and american legal realism

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Human Dignity and American Legal Realism

Diana Martínez Cobaleda


1. The Renaissance thought 3
2. The progress of the Human Dignity in the Modern Age 4
3. Uses of the concept of Human Dignity 5
4. American Legal Realism 5
5. First strand: Power and economics in society. 6
6. Second strand: Characteristics of Individual Judges. 7
7. ThirdStrand: Society's Welfare 7
8. Fourth strand: A Practical Approach to a Durable Result. 8
9. Fifth strand: A Synthesis of Legal Philosophies 8

10. American Legal Realism and Human Dignity. 9
11. Personal Opinion 10

1. The Renaissance thought.
The concept of Human Dignity has become stronger since the beginning of the Renaissance. In the Renaissance it was thought that the value of aperson had to be measured according to his ability to develop the virtualities of his human condition. Virtue was considered the true nobility, and this one was compared to the human dignity. In the book called “La Controversia acerca de la Nobleza” by Buonnarcoso de Montemagno, we can read a dialogue between two young men. The first one, Publio Cornelio, expresses the medieval idea of dignity,this is, a dignity based on the social classes; the second man, Gaio Flaminio, will talk about the dignity as the virtue of all the men, as the value of their acts. There we can see the idea of dignity which emerges from the human condition.

In the Renaissance, the belief in the human dignity appeared in the works of a lot of artists. The Human Dignity was called in this period “dignitashominis”. I am going to explain its origin: the concept “dignitas” refers to the dignity of a man, which is his the inherent value. The humanist referred to this idea, with an optimism which was referred to the human being (as the excellence of the human nature). An idea which doesn’t agree with the pessimist opinion of the Middle Ages.

As a consequence, in the second half of the XV century, therewas a progressive change that produced the relegation of the Nobility, the growth of the cities with the development of the commerce and the luxury, and a certain kind of distrust in the Church teaching. Consequently, the Middle Ages come to its end, and there is a transition to the Renaissance. This one was a period of cultural, scientific and social increase, which conceived the man as the ownerof his destiny (“God became Man, so that the Man could become God”). Therefore, the discourse of the Human Dignity never pretended to finish with the faith in God. On the contrary, its objective was concealing the divine existence with the man one. Despite this faith, an interest in the ingenuity and the power of the human being and also, an anthropocentric vision of the world appears.

2. Theprogress of the Human Dignity in the Modern Age.
Nowadays, in the Modern Age, we have observed how this concept has evolved. In this sense, we can add some examples:

The first one is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which meant a great success in the History of the recognition of the basic rights. Its creation, the 10th November of 1948, involved the faith of the United Nation “inthe dignity and the value of a human person”. Hence, we notice in some articles:
- That “every human beings are born freely and equally in dignity and rights”
- That “no one will be submitted to slavery or servitude”
- That “no one will be subjected to tortures or to cruel treats”

The second one is the European Social Fund, which reflects the International Pact of economic, social andcultural rights. In this one, there are several rights recognized as: the right to receive a salary that allows a person and his family to have a decent kind of life; the setting, in labour law, of having a minimum of 15 years old to work; the guaranty to the women of getting plenty of rest if they recently had a baby.

The last example is the Helsinki Conference in 1975, where in which 35...