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Hannah Arendt and Human Dignity: Theoretical Foundations and Constitutional Protection of Human Rights

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Author(s): John Helis

Journal: Journal of Politics and Law
ISSN 1913-9047

Volume: 1;
Issue: 3;
Date: 2009;
Original page

ABSTRACT
This article considers how Hannah Arendt’s understanding of human dignity comes to terms with two of the most significant controversies in contemporary human rights discourse, while also providing a sound basis for the application of the term. By focusing on the right to membership in a political community, Arendt’s understanding of human dignity realizes the importance of maintaining the tension in the dichotomy present in two controversies: universalism and cultural specificity; natural law and positive law. The practicality of Arendt’s approach will be demonstrated thought a review of a number of domestic and international human rights instruments with specific focus on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which thus far have failed to provide a universally accepted definition of the term.
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