We may, nevertheless, recognize a grain of truth in the moderns’ appreciation of the moral status of the individual human being. That appreciation coheres well with Christian moral theology but not with pre-modern moral and political philosophy. The moderns’ mistaken rejection of the unchanging objective contexts within which the individual exists led, in the thought of a select few, to a more profound understanding of human dignity than is available in any of the pre-moderns—including Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Locke’s nuanced and complex understanding of natural rights, in particular, provides an important philosophical elaboration on the Biblical account of humankind’s creation “in the image and likeness” of God. In tomorrow's article, I will examine this concept in greater depth.
Do we need a concept of dignity in order to have a full account of human flourishing and man's ultimate end? Or to explain the basis of charity or justice? I don't think so.