Human Dignity in Religious Traditions: Foundations for Ethics and Human Rights

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 February 2023) | Viewed by 10861

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Religion, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798, USA
Interests: global ethics; religious and philosophical ethics; nonviolence; environmental ethics; Christian theology

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Guest Editor
Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada Graduate School, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Interests: Islam; religion and politics; ethics; spirituality; sustainability

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Guest Editor
J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA
Interests: law and religion; legal reasoning and rhetoric; philosophy of law; legislation and regulation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere was issued in December 2018 for the purpose of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and re-examining its foundational assumptions concerning human dignity described in its Preamble: “Whereas the recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Occasioned by the proclamation of the Punta del Este Declaration, an international group of scholars representing various religious traditions began a tentative discussion focusing on the understandings and roles of human dignity within different religious traditions. Encouraged by the initial resonances and challenges discovered in the initial meeting in 2019 held at Oxford University, Brett Scharffs, Dicky Sofjan and I subsequently sought to deepen, expand and formalize the conversation. To this end, we invite you to contribute to a Special Issue of Religions, tentatively titled Human Dignity in Religious Traditions: Foundations for Ethics and Human Rights.

The central purpose of this Special Issue is to critically examine the status of human dignity within various religious traditions. Specifically, the goal is to examine how certain texts, narratives, concepts, and exemplars are employed within religious traditions to display human dignity as a foundation for ethics, or, to use the language of Punta del Este, to display “the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” The key to the success of this issue is that it will effectively catalog the resources that support human dignity but also articulate how the resulting account of human dignity is foundational for ethics and human rights (and this will be especially important for those of you representing religious traditions that are already addressed in The Cambridge Handbook of Human Dignity (2014) and Value and Vulnerability: An Interfaith Dialogue on Human Dignity (2020)). Please note, too, that while we recognize that each of you energetically represent and embody a particular religious tradition (which is great!), we are not interested merely in apologetics for these religious traditions but rather a critical engagement that carefully articulates the constructive resources for and, if necessary, the internal resistance to (whether textual, historical or otherwise) human dignity within each of the religious traditions represented.

Should you be willing to contribute to this Special Issue (which I hope you are!), the submission guidelines are as follows:

Length of manuscript:   7000–9000 words

Due dates:   

  • Abstract — 15 October 2022
  • Notification of Acceptance — 1 November 2022
  • Final Draft — 15 January 2023

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the Guest Editor (paul_martens@baylor.edu) by October 15, 2022. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editor for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue, and notifications will be sent by November 1. Full manuscripts will undergo a double-blind peer review.

References

Düwell, Marcus, Jens Braarvig, Roger Brownsword, and Dietmar Mieth, Eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Human Dignity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere. 2018. https://www.dignityforeveryone.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2019/03/Human-Dignity-for-web.pdf.

Petrusek, Matthew R. and Jonathan Rothchild, Eds. Value and Vulnerability: An Interfaith Dialogue on Human Dignity. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2020.

United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 1948. https://www.ohchr.org/en/human-rights/universal-declaration/translations/english.

Dr. Paul Martens
Dr. Dicky Sofjan
Prof. Dr. Brett Scharffs
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 870 KiB  
Article
Human (Relational) Dignity: Perspectives of Followers of Indigenous Religions of Indonesia
by Samsul Maarif
Religions 2023, 14(7), 848; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070848 - 28 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1533
Abstract
Religion and dignity are a two-sided coin for followers of Indigenous Religions in Indonesia. Dignity is the relationally inherent worth in both human and non-human beings. To give and receive dignity, one ought to be religious, which is to engage in interpersonal relationships [...] Read more.
Religion and dignity are a two-sided coin for followers of Indigenous Religions in Indonesia. Dignity is the relationally inherent worth in both human and non-human beings. To give and receive dignity, one ought to be religious, which is to engage in interpersonal relationships with all beings, human and non-human. This article draws on data from two decades of engagement with followers of Indigenous Religions through extensive fieldwork, activism, and community service. It explores the distinctive worldviews and practices of Indonesian Indigenous Peoples, which many have maintained in the face of external incursions by governments, corporations, and missionaries, and internal encroachments from within their communities. Their worldviews spring from interrelational cosmology, which posits that relational dignity is a religious norm. This cosmology is institutionalized with adat (customary) systems that enact and reproduce relational dignity. The article concludes with a call to better understand and recognize Indigenous Religions by expanding the definition of religion to include the notion of relational dignity when considering how scholars and policymakers conceptualize and implement policies on freedom of religion or belief. Full article
13 pages, 276 KiB  
Article
“Until Dignity Becomes Ordinary”: The Grammar of Dignity in Catholic Social Teaching
by Matthew Philipp Whelan
Religions 2023, 14(6), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060716 - 30 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
This article explores the theme of dignity as it emerges in Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum (1891) and develops within mainstream Catholic social teaching. In expositing the grammar of dignity, I argue that, while the tradition certainly affirms dignity as an equal status [...] Read more.
This article explores the theme of dignity as it emerges in Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum (1891) and develops within mainstream Catholic social teaching. In expositing the grammar of dignity, I argue that, while the tradition certainly affirms dignity as an equal status pertaining to all people as created in God’s image, dignity is not just a status. In a world damaged by sin, the real drama of dignity is its defense—the practical acknowledgement of dignity and human equality in the midst of our lived experience. Given how conditions in our world so often deny this truth about the human creature, dignity is, therefore, something we must have faith in, as well as constantly fight to make ordinary. Full article
12 pages, 471 KiB  
Article
Understanding Human Dignity in Shi’i Islam: Debates, Challenges, and Solutions for Contemporary Issues
by SeyedAmirHossein Asghari
Religions 2023, 14(4), 505; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040505 - 06 Apr 2023
Viewed by 2142
Abstract
This study delves into the nuanced understanding of human dignity as expressed and upheld within the framework of Shi’i Islam. Drawing on the Quran as the primary source of Shi’i interpretation of the law and human rights, this research investigates the portrayal of [...] Read more.
This study delves into the nuanced understanding of human dignity as expressed and upheld within the framework of Shi’i Islam. Drawing on the Quran as the primary source of Shi’i interpretation of the law and human rights, this research investigates the portrayal of human dignity in the Shia tradition through Islamic revelation. Furthermore, this study illuminates how certain Shia scholars depict the Quran as striving for the coherence of diverse religions and cultures and how Shia Imams have contributed to the discourse surrounding human dignity through their thoughts and actions. In addition, this study scrutinizes the debates on the compatibility of Islamic human dignity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including contemporary challenges and the responses of Shi’i jurists to these challenges. However, while the Quran and Hadith resources offer sufficient references to human dignity, various approaches to human dignity remain among Shia jurists. Some Shia scholars consider human dignity to be acquired (Iktisābī) through human thoughts and deeds, while others ascribe to dignity an essential characteristic of humankind (dhātī) unconditionally bestowed by God. This research elaborates on how these interpretations, consequences, and requirements inspire Shia jurisprudence (fiqh), particularly in contemporary multicultural and pluralistic societies. Furthermore, it examines how this challenge is being debated among the proponents of each group and how it relates to human rights and current challenges. The study of contemporary developments in Shi’i fiqh regarding the role of human dignity and justice as Legal Maxims (al-qawāʿid al-fiqh) provides a necessary context for understanding and ensuring just legal rulings. Philosophically speaking, if God is the Lawgiver (Shāriʿ) and is Just and Wise, this raises the question of whether it is permissible for a jurist to enact laws that contradict human dignity and justice. This study aims to explore potential solutions to traditional challenges that do not consider human dignity and to suggest ways in which human dignity and justice can be applied as legal maxims. Full article
10 pages, 219 KiB  
Article
Adat Law, Ethics, and Human Rights in Modern Indonesia
by I Ketut Ardhana and Ni Wayan Radita Novi Puspitasari
Religions 2023, 14(4), 443; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040443 - 24 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1800
Abstract
The fact that legal issues support local wisdom, ethics, and human rights and the way in which they operate in the nation-state are not well-understood; however, this is a significant issue. Indonesian independence, achieved on 17 August 1945, initiated substantial changes in the [...] Read more.
The fact that legal issues support local wisdom, ethics, and human rights and the way in which they operate in the nation-state are not well-understood; however, this is a significant issue. Indonesian independence, achieved on 17 August 1945, initiated substantial changes in the religious life of Indonesians. While most of Indonesia is Islamic, other religious beliefs include Hinduism and Christianity. Indonesia did not consider the Balinese a formal religious group in 1945. However, because of the Mount Agung eruption in Bali, many Balinese migrated outside the island. They lived in Lampung (Sumatra), certain places in Java, Palangkaraya (Borneo), Palu (Celebes), and other areas in the Indonesian archipelago, and have lived there for a long time. The total number of Balinese at the present day is around three million, but outside Bali, their number is 10 million. Their number increased throughout the Old Regime, the New Order, and the Reformation periods until the present time. They face many significant problems regarding the marriage and divorce laws juxtaposed with national law, as is the case with other religious communities, such as the Islamic community in Indonesia. Several important questions need to be addressed in this paper. First, what is adat law, or customary law, in Bali and outside Bali regarding the concept of Hindu Nusantara? Second, how should customary law be implemented, for example, relating to marriage and divorce issues in the building of the nation-state? Third, what is the customary law relating to the present situation of the Hindu communities in Indonesia? These are some significant questions. By using interdisciplinary approaches to customary laws, religious history, anthropology, and sociology, we expect to have a better understanding of how the Balinese customary law can become part of the formal law in modern Indonesia. By understanding these issues, it will be possible to strengthen national regulations by adopting certain values of customary law in modern Indonesia. Full article
9 pages, 244 KiB  
Article
The Recovery of Human Dignity in Protestant Christianity and Its Ethical Implications
by Paul Martens and Wemimo B. Jaiyesimi
Religions 2023, 14(3), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030425 - 21 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1939
Abstract
Human dignity, in the Protestant traditions, was generally formulated in reaction to Catholicism. Initial assessments of human dignity were less than enthusiastic and framed soteriologically and contingent on God’s saving grace. In contrast, by the middle of the 19th century, human dignity in [...] Read more.
Human dignity, in the Protestant traditions, was generally formulated in reaction to Catholicism. Initial assessments of human dignity were less than enthusiastic and framed soteriologically and contingent on God’s saving grace. In contrast, by the middle of the 19th century, human dignity in Protestant theology emerged as a positive anthropological affirmation with significant political consequences. To illuminate this evolution within the Protestant world, this paper provides a narrative sketch that: (1) orients initial notions of human dignity with reference to the ambiguous legacy of Martin Luther; (2) describes how substantial engagements with minority or marginalized populations in the 19th and 20th centuries around the world—including South Africa, India, and the USA—led to a revision and expansion of human dignity; and (3) exhibits the affirmation of a robust understanding of human dignity in Protestant traditions around the world. The argument is both (a) expansive because it highlights developments toward the positive embrace of human dignity across a wide geographic range while also remaining (b) limited because it merely argues that the Protestant traditions universally affirm human dignity, while also acknowledging that frequently there are limits to the performance of that affirmation based on matters of race, nationality, class, and gender. Full article
13 pages, 306 KiB  
Article
Nurturing Inherent Nobility: Insights on Human Dignity from a Bahá’í Perspective
by Temily Tianmay Tavangar and David Alexander Palmer
Religions 2023, 14(2), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020250 - 13 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1231
Abstract
The Bahá’í Faith is an important case for a discussion on dignity, religion and human rights. Beyond the notions of dignity enshrined in its basic teachings, a core concern of the Bahá’í community is how to build dignity into the pattern of social [...] Read more.
The Bahá’í Faith is an important case for a discussion on dignity, religion and human rights. Beyond the notions of dignity enshrined in its basic teachings, a core concern of the Bahá’í community is how to build dignity into the pattern of social relations of an emerging global civilization. The oneness of humanity is the core principle around which all Bahá’í teachings revolve, and within this principle is enshrined not only the inherent, God-given nobility and dignity of every individual but also the responsibility of creating new patterns of social relations, forms of community, processes of education, and structures of institutional authority that consciously strive to create a global polity that protects and affirms the dignity of all humans, in all of their diversity. In this paper, we examine the foundations of human dignity in the Bahá’í Faith in four parts. First, we explore the use of the term “dignity” in Bahá’í sacred texts and its relationship to the concepts of “nobility" and “rights”. Second, we examine how Bahá’ís seek to put into practice their conception of dignity through a democratic system of global governance, grounded in processes of consultative deliberation, referred to as the Bahá’í Administrative Order. Third, we highlight how the Bahá’í community is seeking to cultivate conditions of dignity in its current educational endeavours, which seeks to contribute to the betterment of local communities throughout the world. Fourth, we explore the ongoing and centuries-long persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran to understand the implications of dignity in responding to oppression. Full article
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