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Moral, ethical, legal, and political discussions use the concept of dignity to express the idea that a being has an innate right to be valued, respected, and to receive ethical treatment. In the modern context dignity can function as an extension of the Enlightenment-era concepts of inherent, inalienable rights. English-speakers often use the word "dignity" in proscriptive and cautionary ways: for example in politics it can be used to critique the treatment of oppressed and vulnerable groups and peoples, but it has also been applied to cultures and sub-cultures, to religious beliefs and ideals, to animals used for food or research, and to plants. "Dignity" also has descriptive meanings pertaining to human worth, although there is no exact or agreed-upon definition of this worth. In general, the term has various functions and meanings depending on how the term is used and on the context.<ref name="Shultziner, D. Human Dignity - Functions and Meanings. Global Jurist">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>

The English word "dignity", attested from the early 13th century, comes from Latin dignitas (worthiness)<ref> {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }} </ref> by way of French dignité.<ref name = "DIC">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> In ordinary modern usage it denotes "respect" and "status", and it is often used to suggest that someone is not receiving a proper degree of respect, or even that they are failing to treat themselves with proper self-respect. There is also a long history of special philosophical use of this term. However, it is rarely defined outright in political, legal, and scientific discussions. International proclamations have thus far left dignity undefined,<ref> "Those provisions concerning human dignity have not been authoritatively interpreted or applied by any of the competent, independent, international institutions." Bartha Maria Knoppers, Human Dignity and Genetic Heritage: Study Paper (Law Reform Commission of Canada, 1991), note, at 23. None of the international proclamations make dignity the rare quality that some commentators say it should be. </ref><ref> Myres S. McDougal, Harold D. Lasswell, and Lung-chu Chen, Human Rights and World Public Order: The Basic Policies of an International Law of Human Dignity (New Haven: Yale UP, 1980), note, at 376. </ref> and scientific commentators, such as those arguing against genetic research and algeny, cite dignity as a reason but are ambiguous about its application.<ref> {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }} </ref>


Dignity sections
Intro   Violations   Philosophical history  Religion  Proclamations and conventions  Medicine  Law  See also  References  Further reading  

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