Tag Archives: dignity

Roundup of Things to Read

At Jotwell,  has reviewed Rosie Harding’s, Regulating Sexuality: Legal Consciousness in Lesbian and Gay Lives (Routledge 2011).

Bringing pluralism and consciousness of law together allows for a much more expansive definition of legality and a more nuanced analysis of everyday narratives of law. Engagement with and resistance to the formal law is refracted through a variety of normative lenses other than the state law itself.

The empirical dimension of Harding’s book is equally significant and produces an amazingly rich picture of the complexities of lesbian and gay engagements with law, including the myriad forms of resistance and the diversity of positions which form lesbian and gay legal identities.

The amazing Dorothy Roberts has posted her The Social Context of Oncofertility (DePaul Law Review, Vol. 61, Page 777, 2012)   to SSRN, (h/t Lawrence Solum’s legal theory blog)

There are compelling ethical reasons to restore to women cancer survivors the capacity to have a child so easily preserved for men and for the public to support wide access to this restoration. Yet an investigation of the underlying structural injustices that place women in conditions of infertility, poor health, and inadequate access to medical care raise questions about the just distribution of public resources used to pay for oncofertility and other health care services.

The Legal Theory Blog is also recommending Jeremy Waldron’s 2009 Tanner Lectures “Dignity, Rank and Rights” (the Legal Theory Blog links to an OUP version, but I think that the lectures are available full text here.)   Canadian Constitutional/Charter/Equality scholars might be interested:

Together the two lectures illuminate the relation between dignity conceived as the ground of rights and dignity conceived as the content of rights; they also illuminate important ideas about dignity as noble bearing and dignity as the subject of a right against degrading treatment; and they help us understand the sense in which dignity is better conceived as a status than as a kind of value.


New on SSRN Reva Siegel, Dignity and Sexuality: Claims on Dignity in Transnational Debates Over Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage

Dignity and Sexuality: Claims on Dignity in Transnational Debates Over Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage by Reva Siegel :: SSRN.


Dignity’s meaning is famously contested. This essay explores competing claims on dignity in late twentieth-century debates over abortion and in the first decisions on the constitutionality of abortion legislation that these debates prompted. Advocates and judges appealed to dignity to vindicate autonomy, to vindicate equality, and to express respect for the value of life itself. Appeals to these distinct conceptions of dignity are now appearing in debates over the regulation of same-sex relations. Analyzed with attention to competing claims on dignity, we can see that in the debate over same-sex relations, as in the debate over abortion, a crucial question recurs: Do laws that restrict non-procreative sexuality violate or vindicate human dignity? Agonists who hold fundamentally different views about sexuality share an allegiance to dignity, enough to fight for the authority to establish dignity’s meaning in debates over sexual freedom. Today, as in the 1970s, dignity’s meaning is being forged in cross-borders conflict over dignity’s sex.

I am looking forward to reading this and thinking about Canadian jurisprudence which has struggled to define and operationalize “dignity” in a variety of equality rights contexts. See for instance, Denise Reaume, Discrimination & Dignity available on SSRN here.