Human dignity, humiliation, and torture

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2009 Sep;19(3):211-30. doi: 10.1353/ken.0.0292.


Modern human rights instruments ground human rights in the concept of human dignity, without providing an underlying theory of human dignity. This paper examines the central importance of human dignity, understood as not humiliating people, in traditional Jewish ethics. It employs this conception of human dignity to examine and criticize U.S. use of humiliation tactics and torture in the interrogation of terrorism suspects.

MeSH terms

  • Ethical Theory
  • Human Rights Abuses / ethics*
  • Human Rights Abuses / psychology
  • Human Rights Abuses / trends
  • Human Rights* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Judaism*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Prisoners* / psychology
  • Terrorism*
  • Torture / ethics*
  • Torture / psychology
  • Truth Disclosure / ethics*
  • United States